American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Man O War

The Portuguese Man O War is coming.

These little jellyfish, also known as the bluebottle, wash ashore from time to time and last night they littered the beach. The problems presented by these creatures are two-fold. First, the sting of the Man O War can be extremely painful:

Bluebottle tentacles will cause a sharp, painful sting if they are touched, which is aggravated by rubbing the area. Intense pain may be felt from a few minutes to many hours and develops into a dull ache which then spreads to surrounding joints. The affected area develops a red line with small white lesions. In severe cases blisters and weals looking like a string of beads may appear. Victims may exhibit signs of shock. Children, asthmatics and people with allergies can be badly affected and many cases of respiratory distress have been reported in Australia. Australia Museum Online

The second problem stems from the fact that the Man O War simply looks like a translucent blue balloon which seems to draw in small children. Mine have been well educated on the Man O War and the implications of a sting so they give the Man O War on the beach a wide berth. Other kids on the beach and in the water have not been so lucky or so well trained.

If you happen to find yourself or someone else stung by a Man O War you should:

...leave the water immediately. If any part of the animal is still sticking to the skin, it should be gently lifted off with tweezers or a gloved hand. This will minimise the firing of more stinging capsules. Do not rub the area with wet sand or towel, or wash with alcohol as this will only make it worse. For milder stings, ice packs or local anaesthetic sprays are often effective in reducing pain. In extreme cases resuscitation may be needed and medical attention should be sought. Australia Museum Online

This seems to be more of a problem with heavier winds from the East (in this location) which push the Man O War and several varieties of bait fish toward the shore. The movement of bait fish presents other problems to swimmers and beachgoers but that is a discussion for another day.

Thanks for reading,



At 4:01 PM, Blogger sam_acw said...

I remember a holiday in Cornwall when I was a child when there are lots of photos of us paddling in the sea in rubber boots as a storm had washed lots of these jellyfish ashore


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