Sunday 22 July 2018

Swimmers warned about 'particularly big' dangerous jellyfish as several people hospitalised

Lion's Mane jellyfish found at Templetown Beach, Co Louth in 2016
Lion's Mane jellyfish found at Templetown Beach, Co Louth in 2016
A jellyfish in Renville Pier in Oranmore, Galway Photo: Joe Hawksley
A jellyfish seen in Malinbeg, Co. Donegal this week Photo: Freddie Godliman
Lions mane jellyfish. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Rachel Farrell

Members of the public have been rushed to hospital after being stung by dangerous lion's mane jellyfish, as experts warned they appear to be larger than usual.

Dr Tom Doyle, marine biologist and lecturer in zoology at University College Cork said the venomous creatures looked particularly big for this time of the year.

"They're really big ones for this time of year so looks like they have overwintered," he said in a tweet. 

Three people were hospitalised from lion's mane stings last week, according to Galway Water Safety. A member of the Galway Swimming Club was taken to A&E for treatment after getting a particularly bad sting, a spokesperson said. 

"We have had only one member who had to go to A&E for treatment, but we have had several members who have gotten stung from these particular bad jellies," a spokesperson for Galway Swimming Club told Independent.ie.

"They are really putting a dampener on open water swimming this season and even the most seasoned of swimmers are wary of going into the water at the moment."

A jellyfish in Renville Pier in Oranmore, Galway
Photo: Joe Hawksley
A jellyfish in Renville Pier in Oranmore, Galway Photo: Joe Hawksley

Galway Water Safety have issued a warning for swimmers to stay within the designated bathing areas (DBA's) where lifeguards are on hand should they get stung in the water.

"Our advice is to swim at the DBA’s as lifeguards ensure your safety on our beaches and will be patrolling on their surf rescue boards to ensure that they do not pose a threat to members of the public," they said in a statement on Facebook.

"These potentially dangerous jellyfish are likely to appear on more of our beaches in the coming weeks. The sting from these jellyfish can cause anaphylactic shock and we have had a number of people hospitalised as a result of a sting from these venomous Jellyfish over the years. 

"Three were hospitalised last week. Members of the public can use wet suits to minimise the risk of being stung by them. They can also use rash vests and use Vaseline on their faces and hands."

A jellyfish seen in Malinbeg, Co. Donegal this week
Photo: Freddie Godliman
A jellyfish seen in Malinbeg, Co. Donegal this week Photo: Freddie Godliman

According to Galway Water Safety, the rise in jellyfish sightings may be down to the warmer weather.

"The general increase in jellyfish may be attributed to the lack of predators (other fish) and the increase in water temperature."

Lion's mane jellyfish can reach a diameter of almost 7ft wide with tentacles as long as 190ft, with the colour varying from red to yellow. It is said to be the largest jelly fish species in the world and is most common in the Arctic and North Pacific oceans. 

The best way to treat a lion's mane sting is rinsing with vinegar to remove the tentacles, followed by immersing the area in 45°C (113°F) hot water for 40 minutes, according to research from NUI Galway and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa last year.

Members of the public are encouraged to report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Date Centre here.

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