Brown jellyfish: a new attack in Greece

The Greek seas are filled with dangerous purple jellyfish, and it may turn out that some of you still have to face it when swimming. At the same time, as experts advise, forget about rubbing the burn site with vinegar or ammonia.

The purple jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) is expected to peak in Greek seas in the summer of 2022, and the National Biodiversity Observatory is giving instructions on what to do if you’ve been scourged by a similar species of marine life.

This type of jellyfish is considered one of the most dangerous in the Mediterranean. Its bite is particularly painful due to the neurotoxin it contains.

Brown jellyfish are recognized by four main and eight additional long tentacles, by a speckled “cap” and a purple color of the inside. The jellyfish usually has a diameter of 6 to 10 cm. Juveniles are orange-brown in color, while older ones are purplish-purple in color.

Experts from the Greek Biodiversity Observatory warn citizens, emphasizing: “You should not swim if, when entering the sea, you saw them in the water.”

Contact with a purple jellyfish and its tentacles causes redness and swelling of the bite site, and sometimes pronounced dermonecrosis. In addition, there have been cases of cardio- and neurotoxic effects on the human body.

If you were attacked by a jellyfish. Symptoms:

  1. Pain, burning.
  2. Severe redness of the skin.

Also, after being bitten by a purple jellyfish, a person may feel:

  • Dizziness;
  • drop in blood pressure;
  • tachycardia;
  • Headache;
  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea
  • Cough, shortness of breath.

Rare symptoms that require immediate hospitalization of the victim:

  • Hypotension;
  • breathing problems;
  • Generalized angioedema – extensive urticaria.
  • state of shock (slurred speech);
  • Vomit.

If you are bitten by a purple jellyfish:

  • Remove the tentacles stuck to the body. But not with bare hands, because you yourself can suffer from the toxin.
  • Rinse the bite site with plenty of sea water. If there is no better way, take a handful of sand and rub the part of the body where the tentacles are stuck. If possible, apply a mixture of sea water and baking soda (1:1) for two minutes to stop any further penetration of the poison into the blood from possible remnants of tentacle cells remaining on the skin.
  • Do not use fresh water!
  • Apply ice or a cold compress to the bite for 5-15 minutes. Ice or even an iced soft drink must be in a package or other wrapper, for example, in a fabric or T-shirt. Check if the pain has subsided and, if necessary, re-apply ice for another 5-15 minutes.
  • Apply cortisone cream to the affected area – reduces the local inflammatory reaction and quickly relieves burning and itching.
  • Wrap the bite tightly with bandages, DO NOT use vinegar, fresh water, ANY alcohol, not even ammonia.
  • Take an antihistamine tablet. The need to take an anti-allergic drug is greater, the more the skin is affected.

Finally, if the symptoms are severe, and especially if they do not improve after first aid, an injection of cortisone may be required. In this case, you you need to go to a medical facility.

Attention! Unlike other types of jellyfish, in this case, the use of vinegar and ammonia, usually used to prevent further penetration of the poison under the skin, is not indicated.

Vinegar, as well as fresh water, alcohol, ammonia, do NOT help with the bite of this type of jellyfish, but, on the contrary, worsen the condition and pain. This jellyfish inactivated by a slightly alkaline solution (baking soda dissolved in an appropriate amount of sea water) and not by acid.

Useful tips from the Hellenic Biodiversity Observatory

Citizens are urged to look at the weather and wind before deciding where to swim. A good website that can help with this is

In the presence of plankton on the beach, citizens are advised to avoid swimming, as jellyfish feed on plankton and their tentacles with stinging cells are transparent and can reach 10 meters in length.

If there is a serious problem with purple jellyfish on the beach, then citizens are advised not to risk swimming and always carry an antihistamine cream or cortisone ointment, which can be purchased at any pharmacy.

Citizens should never pull jellyfish out of the water and bury them in the sand because there is a risk that someone will step on a marine life and get chiseled.

Attention! All citizens who see jellyfish are kindly asked to take a photo (even from their mobile phone) and upload it to (the platform is also supported by ios and android), indicating the type of jellyfish (if you know) and the date when they saw it, as well as exact location.

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