Jellyfish are some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures. Part of their allure is their translucence, but one jellyfish sting can get a beach goer into trouble. Because we can’t see them right away, they can creep up on us and give us a good, painful sting. The Gulf of Mexico may be known to have its fair share of powerful jellyfish, but that doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. To be prepared for your trip to one of the many top Galveston beaches, here are the types of jellyfish found in the area and what you should do if you are stung.
What Kinds of Jellyfish Are in the Gulf of Mexico and How Do I Treat a Jellyfish Sting?
Jellyfish That Sting:
- Moon Jelly – have short tentacles along the outer margins of the bell that are packed with nematocysts or stinging cells. They only cause a very mild irritation.
- Atlantic Sea Nettle – have several long tentacles and long, trailing oral arms. Their color varies with the salt content of the water. In saltier waters, they may have red or brown streaks coming from the center of the bell. The sea nettle’s sting is rated from “moderate” to “severe,” but is not potent enough to cause human death unless you have an allergic reaction.
- Pink Meanie – this newly discovered jellyfish feeds on moon jellies. Pink meanie stings are reported to cause mild irritation to severe pain.
Jellyfish That Don’t Sting
- Cannonball Jellyfish – otherwise known as cabbage head jellyfish, these jellyfish have a sphere-like shape with short, stubby arms coming out from a reddish bell. Cannonball jellyfish are generally harmless to humans and typically do not sting, but beware that they do have toxins which can cause cardiac problems in both animals and humans.
- Comb Jellies – look like jellyfish but aren’t quite jellyfish. They don’t have nematocysts, so they don’t sting and actually are safe to handle! Their beautiful oval bodies have eight rows of tiny comblike plates to propel themselves through the water.
How Should I Treat a Jellyfish Sting?
- Rinse the area with vinegar. Do not wipe with a towel or use seawater, urine, fresh water, alcohol, ammonia, or meat tenderizer.
- Use a pair of fine tweezers to carefully pluck any visible tentacles. Avoid scraping out stingers.
- Run hot water (about 110-113 F) over the affected area for half an hour or so.
You generally don’t need to see a doctor for most jellyfish stings. However, a person may need emergency care if they have severe reaction, get stung in the eye, or have pain that needs to be managed with medication.
For top emergency room services in Galveston, visit Hospitality Health ER at 4222 Seawall Blvd.