Experts warn that purple jellyfish are often paler in color, not as saturated as is often made out to be. Alas, this summer, for some people, the purple jellyfish has become a “torture” – when you want to swim, but you are afraid.
The ubiquitous spread of purple jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca), although it started in 2020, attracted special attention from specialists in May this year and received extensive coverage, mainly on social networks, as well as in the media. But how much should we care about the presence of purple jellyfish on the beaches? In what areas do they predominate? And what should we do if we see a purple jellyfish or she stings us?
“There are at least 10 species of jellyfish in Greece that are of concern because they can cause burns (you may even need medical attention, depending on how vulnerable the body of each individual person is),” says Christos Taqlis, marine biologist and manager of the Hellenic Biodiversity Observatory.
Purple jellyfish are not harmless
As the expert explains, for other species it is true that “some can penetrate the skin, such as cnidaria (Cnidaria). This type of marine life has multiple well-developed stinging cells (nematocysts) on tentacles that can penetrate human skin. A single tentacle can eject thousands of nematocysts into the skin on contact. And cause inflammation – multiple vesicles (blisters) on the skin.
While others may scold us and we may not even feel anything. Or you will feel a slight burning sensation, or an itch that lasts a very short time, even a second, without causing any consequences and problems. Unfortunately, according to Mr. Taklis, the purple jellyfish is not classified as harmless.
“Purple jellyfish is one of those species that worries us. Because “meeting” with her can be dangerous, and even cause serious problems. Exposure to the toxin contained in the stinging cells of purple jellyfish is not necessarily manifested during the “bite”. For example shortness of breath or convulsions may occur within hours of being stung by a jellyfish. Even according to after a few days a person may have symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, ”the specialist says.
A “sting” of a jellyfish can cause pain lasting up to two weeks, redness, swelling and itching. Less commonly, a severe allergic reaction can occur that leaves scars even years after the bite.
Purple jellyfish: how to find out where there are a lot of them
In recent years, and especially in the current one, due to the peak distribution of purple jellyfish, many people are looking for a way to be aware of “problem areas”. The answer to this was the Jelly Report (jellyfish – jellyfish in English). The portal issues a notice each week showing the areas where there were the most reports of purple jellyfish.
It is worth noting that only 465 people participate in iNaturalist, who record observations of jellyfish. The Jellyfish in Greece group has 26,000 members who provide details about where the jellyfish are, if they’ve been stung, and generally detailed information.
Two “red” zones
The “per million” question is which areas have the most serious problem with purple jellyfish, and whether there is a pattern to their distribution in a given region. “Unfortunately, there is no pattern, because the phenomenon of purple jellyfish depends entirely from strength and direction wind and underwater currents. In the morning of one day, you can see a lot of jellyfish in one area, and tomorrow in another, depending on the conditions,” says Christos Taklis.
As can be seen from the latest expert report, Attica and the Ionian Sea have the most serious problems. According to the Jelly Report Group, the number of purple jellyfish has recently increased in most parts of the world.
What to do if we see a purple jellyfish on the beach, or suddenly it stings us?
Christos Taqlis replies: “If there are many of them, we leave the water or do not enter the sea at all. If we see 1-2 or more individuals, far apart, we can use the mask to see if there is a jellyfish nearby (preferably keep a distance of 1-2 meters from the marine life). You have to be extremely careful when swimming in the sea. If the weather is cloudy, the water is not so clear, and we saw at least 1 jellyfish, it’s better not to go into the water at all, not to put ourselves at risk.”
Finally, a marine biologist and manager of the Hellenic Biodiversity Observatory explains what we should do if stung by a purple jellyfish: “If you are stung by a jellyfish, you need to get out of the sea, dry the bitten place (without rubbing it) and apply a cortisone cream (for example, Fucicort) If there are tentacles left on the skin, you must first rinse it with sea water and remove the remnants with a plastic card.The second step is to smear the bite site with a “paste” – a mixture of baking soda and sea water, and then apply a cortisone cream.