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Jellyfish wash ashore at Tarague Beach

  • Published
  • By Airman Carissa Wolff
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Due to the high winds causing Man of War jellyfish to wash up on Tarague Beach since Feb. 22, red and purple warning flags are posted to provide accurate information to beachgoers. 

The red flags mean no swimming in the beach waters and purple flags mean there are hazardous forms of marine life in the water. Signs have also been posted in the Tarague Beach bath house. So far, no one has been stung by the jellyfish. 

The jellyfish use the float portion of their bodies, which can sometimes be seen above water, as a sail to make it inland to the beach. 

"The clear blue Man of War jellyfish washing up on Tarague beach and in the water are actually really small," said Ray Stiers, 36th Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation director. "The float portions of the jellyfish on Tarague are one to three inches long and one to three inches in diameter and the tentacles trailing from the top are three to six inches in length. Man of War jellyfish can have a float portion up to 12 inches long and five inches in diameter with trailing tentacles growing up to 165 feet long." 

Although there is no swimming, lifeguards are still on duty at Tarague beach because the camping areas of the beach are not affected by the jellyfish. Patrons can still sunbathe on the beach. 

According to Mr. Stiers, more stings occur with the jellyfish washed up on shore because people do not believe the clear blue jellyfish are still a hazard. The venom the jellyfish produce is still active whether the jellyfish is in or out of water. 

"The venom is injected into humans through the tentacles of the jellyfish," said Brenna Buse, 36th FSS aquatics manager. "The Man of War jellyfish is especially painful because this type of jellyfish injects capsules of venom in its victim that can later burst causing more pain and itching for up to a week." 

Due to the uniqueness of the Man of War jellyfish, it is important to know the proper procedures for care after being stung. 

"A Man of War jellyfish sting should not be doused in vinegar," said Ms. Buse. "This sometimes causes the sting to get worse. People who are stung should remove any remaining tentacles with gloved hand or something other than bare skin to avoid further injury. The injured party should then rinse the sting with warm saltwater. The use of cold or freshwater can sometimes activate more toxins within the venom causing more pain. Once (the) wound is clean, do not apply any topical ointments. People should seek medical attention as soon as the wound is clean." 

The Man of War jellyfish is not deadly in nature but allergic reactions occur. 

If the sting victim is having difficulty breathing or their consciousness is in any way being altered, treat it as a medical emergency and get the individual medical attention as soon as possible, said Ms. Buse. 

Small children are treated the same way in the event of a sting but are urged to seek immediate medical attention. 

For more information, call outdoor recreation at 366-5197.