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A remarkable Phuket box jellyfish, fortunately only one centimetre long

Caution Urged on Scary Reports of Jellyfish off Phuket Beach

Monday, May 20, 2013
PHUKET: Experts confirm that stinging jellyfish can be found in waters off Phuket but they prefer to take a cautious approach rather than scaring swimmers from the island's popular beaches.

Bangkok experts on jellyfish have joined with Phuket Public Health, Phuket hospitals and the Phuket Marine Biological Centre today and tomorrow on Phuket for a two-day seminar on jellyfish in Andaman waters.

''There have always been jellyfish in the sea off Phuket,'' one marine biologist said today from the seminar. ''There are no indications that lethal varieties can be found off Phuket's popular beaches.''

Phuket diver Joe Blasy, with 13 years' experience on Phuket, filmed jellyfish on three occasions while on night dives off Phuket's Kata beach in recent weeks.

He posted footage on YouTube in March-April and also sent the video to the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

''The centre confirmed that the footage was of box jellyfish but that it was probably a non-lethal variety,'' he told Phuketwan today.

Mr Blasy said he filmed the small jellyfish between 50 metres and 20 metres off Kata beach using a torch on night dives.

''I'd say the bell would be about seven centimetres across with the tentacles extending for 10 to 15 centimetres.''

Sightings of jellyfish on dives off Phuket were not unusual, he said.

''I've had a friend who was stung by a jellyfish but that hardly seems to be a problem,'' he said. ''We have to share the water with them.''

Mr Blasy said it was important not to sensationalise the issue. ''I work in tourism so I don't want to alarm people unnecessarily,'' he said.

''Providing accurate, updated information is the best way to deal with the issue.''

The Phuket Marine Biological Centre responded by saying that they would like a captured jellyfish so they could confirm what type it was, he said.

No deadly or serious box jellyfish stings have been recorded on Phuket's west coast, although the expansion of jellyfish in all seas worldwide has led to Phuket authorities erecting signs on popular Phuket beaches.

The signs make the point that vinegar is the only treatment that reduces the toxicity but not the pain of box jellyfish stings.

Phuketwan has waded into the waters of an east coast Phuket bay where a small variety of the box jellyfish has existed, probably for decades if not longer.

However, like most jellyfish, they sting but are unlikely to prove lethal. The monsoon season usually brings more jellyfish to all Andaman provinces.

''The lethality of this particular species cannot be determined without examining a specimen,'' Mr Blasy said. ''Many box jellies are no more venomous than an average jellyfish.''

Comments

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again...ammonia is FAR superior to vinegar. I sent you, the editor, the lastest finding from Scripps Institute 2 months ago.

Posted by Bodysurf Nai Harn on May 20, 2013 16:11

Editor Comment:

Use what you choose but Australian experts on box jellyfish with long experience say that vinegar is the only surefire method of reducing the toxicity that destroys flesh. The NYT report you sent is not conclusive and mentions an in-development commercial product. I wouldn't stake my life on it just yet. For now, the experts say vinegar, and only vinegar for box jelly toxicity.

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One small correction. I meant to say the bell was 7 cm long, not wide. They were only about 4cm wide. They are quite a bit smaller than they look in the videos, which can be viewed by entering the following youtube video ID's in the youtube search box: VnHDJ2WuWN4 and iMTHuZ_DGHAH

Posted by Joe Blasy on May 20, 2013 22:30

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I agree vinegar is the best treatment. Collection of species for identification should be encouraged as we wouldn't want the Irukandji jelly fish lobbing in with no treatment available

Posted by Ron on May 21, 2013 02:51

Editor Comment:

Irukandji and box jellyfish are different creatures, and are both to be avoided. Treatments differ. For the ''boxie'' it's vinegar.

For the irukandji, according to a recent report:

''Dr Michael Corkeron, of the Townsville Hospital Intensive Care Unit, successfully treated patients stung by irukandji with magnesium infusions, delivered by intravenous drip.''

Australia has only had two confirmed deaths from irukandji and though the real figure could be higher, there have been 71 cases of death from box jellyfish sting.

"Time to death, the box jelly beats everything hands down," Dr Lisa Gershwin said.


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