Hawaii — By byun on February 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm
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Hanauma Bay closed for second day due to box jellyfish

For the second day in a row, Hanauma Bay is closed to visitors due to a large box jellyfish count earlier this morning.  Yesterday, lifeguards counted about 40 jellyfish within an hour and this morning they counted 100.  Many visitors to Hawaii — and even some locals — are not aware that the islands experience jellyfish warnings on a monthly basis, about 7-10 days after a full moon and that this can be a dangerous health hazard to beachgoers.

The jellyfish that like to visit southern and eastern shores of the islands are called box jellyfish, and they are often too small to spot in the water but are extremely toxic. Like all jellyfish, box jellyfish have no head, heart, or skeleton — nor do they have a brain. While some jellyfish are not so dangerous for humans, however, box jellyfish are extremely poisonous predators. Some can even shut down the human respiratory system.

Lifeguards always post jellyfish warnings on the beach, so it’s always wise to check with beach safety before you enter the water. If you do get stung, here are few good tips for treatment:

1. Immediately flood the area with household vinegar. This does not relieve pain, but prevents additional stings.

2. Never rub the area with sand or anything else.

3. Irrigate exposed eyes with copious amounts of room temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes. If vision blurs, or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or are light sensitive after irrigating, see a doctor.

4. Pluck off any vinegar-soaked tentacles with a stick or other tool.

5. If the victim experiences shortness of breath, weakness, muscle cramps, palpitations or any other generalized symptoms, immediately call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room.

6. For pain relief, apply ice packs. If pain becomes unbearable, go to an emergency room. No studies support applying heat to box jellyfish stings.

For updated jellyfish information and a 2010 jellyfish arrival calendar visit this informative 808jellyfish.com site.

Photo courtesy of bsterling (Flickr)

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