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Box jellyfish found at Yacht Haven Marina on Christmas Eve

Phuket Jellyfish Alert: 'Boxie' Caught, Diver Stung

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Update: fishermen at Yacht Haven reported capturing jellyfish in stake traps but they were not box jellyfish

A BOX JELLYFISH capture has been confirmed on Phuket's far north east coast, and a diver off Koh Racha has told what it is like to be stung by one.

Concern is growing that the box jellyfish in 2009 could affect tourism to Phuket and the Andaman in even more damaging and long-lasting ways than the airports blockades of 2008.

An official three-pronged plan has been put in place to deal with the menace.

But there remains a serious lack of knowledge about the dangerous creature and whether it has spread beyond control in Phuket waters.

Many resorts appear to be ignoring the issue, hoping it will go away. That is extremely unlikely. Those with a stake in tourism need to become involved quickly before the problem grows.

The box jellyfish capture On Christmas Eve morning, Yacht Haven Marina manager Khringsak Khaweekhet was walking to work with staff over a bridge near the yachts when they saw a jellyfish in the water. Having been to the Phuket Marine Biology Centre at Cape Panwa to learn more about box jellyfish, the two fetched a bucket and captured the jellyfish alive. A call to the centre brought the chief of the museum and aquarium, Dr Somchai Bussarawit, to the marina. He confirmed the identity of the box jellyfish and has since alerted fishermen in the area. They will be inspecting fish traps nearby, similar to the process at the spot where box jellyfish were first confirmed in Phuket waters in mid-2008, on the southern east coast at Nam Bor Bay. Reserchers find rapidly-maturing box jellyfish in the traps at Nam Bor Bay, between Phuket City and Cape Panwa, every time they visit. While there is no sign that the box jellyfish are present on Phuket's popular west coast beaches, there is no guarantee that the box jellyfish will not spread from Nam Bor Bay. The sighting and capture at Yacht Haven, about 30 kilometres north, indicates a wider presence.

The box jellyfish sting On December 21, diver Graham MacMillan was completing a Rescue Diver course at Racha Yai, Bungalow Bay. Here in his own words is what happened next: ''We were coming up to our compulsory dive stop, and I was at about six meters when I noticed this box jellyfish about seven inches from my face. (Maybe a foot long in length, body and tentacles.) I tried to get away but in so doing, I must have brushed one of the tentacles. On arrival back at the boat, the pain was severe. I thought I had cut my finger open, but not seeing any blood, I had to complete my qualifying dive. The pain went from bad to worse. At home I was woken up three times at night due to the pain. Thank heavens this was only one stinger, on my little finger and not the whole lot in my face. That would definitely have been fatal. There are certainly a lot of these jellies around, but we don't want to scare any more divers from Phuket, please. Just be aware they are around.'' The diver sent photographs of his sting to experts in Australia, who confirmed that it was caused by a box jellyfish. While the manager at the marina said the jellyfish there had a reddish tinge, the diver said it was ''almost blue but mostly transparent and difficult to see underwater, about seven inches in total length, with many tentacles at each of its four corners. I am sorry I did not count the tentacles, as my main concern was escape at that time without panicking. I think I only touched a very small portion of stinger. As of today, I am still in quite a bit of pain, but it is beginning to subside. The wound has now burst open and I am constantly applying an alternate application of local anesthetic and a broadband anti-bacterial.'' With sightings and stings to the far north east coast and as far south as Koh Racha, awareness to the presence of jellyfish has become a public health priority. Common vinegar is the only treatment that will ease the pain.

The box jellyfish plan A seminar on the box jellyfish was held in Bangkok on December 18, with representatives from several Andaman provinces and government departments attending. The marine biologists now have the task of continuing the study of the two species of jellyfish found in Phuket waters after the death in April of a young tourist at a beach on Koh Lanta, Krabi, apparently from box jellyfish stings. The Tourism and Sports Ministry undertook to deal with the effect on tourism, while Public Health has the responsibility of imparting warnings and knowledge about protection and treatment. All three prongs to the jellyfish defence program come under the authority of the Phuket Governor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan. As the latest capture and confirmed stings have come since the seminar, it is expected that extra funding will be found so that the marine biologists, underfunded and inadequately resourced, can carry out a thorough survey with speed to determine the seriousness of the box jellyfish threat to swimmers and the tourism industry.

Jellyfish Photo Albums


Phuket Jellyfish Alert: The Biggest Test Yet?
Photo Album 'Sun, surf, sand ... but deadly jellyfish cast shadow on Phuket.' Hong Kong readers learn about Phuket's biological crisis.
Phuket Jellyfish Alert: The Biggest Test Yet?

Phuket Box Jellyfish: Are We In Danger?
Photo Album Virtually every day now, box jellyfish are being found at a spot not far from Phuket City as marine biologists puzzle over their unexpected presence. Should we be alarmed?
Phuket Box Jellyfish: Are We In Danger?

Essential Reading


Phuket Jellyfish Alert: Expert To Fly In, Seminar Too
More accurate information should become available about the dangerous box jellyfish discovered on Phuket's east coast after an expert flies in for further research.
Phuket Jellyfish Alert: Expert To Fly In, Seminar Too

Phuket Alert: Expert Guide to Jellyfish
The box jellyfish found in a Phuket bay have probably always been here, says an expert. She shatters some of the myths and offers hope for safety programs to prevent deaths and injuries.
Phuket Alert: Expert Guide to Jellyfish

Phuket Jellyfish Alert: No Cause For Panic
The Governor of Phuket hears a briefing on the Phuket box jellyfish alert and suggests continuing research, alerting people to the dangers and the treatment of stings, and avoiding panic
Phuket Box Jellyfish:'No Cause For Panic'

Phuket Jellyfish Alert: Governor To Decide
Box Jellyfish continue to be taken from waters close to Phuket City, with distribution of the vinegar that can treat stings about to begin. The governor is to meet a leading marine centre researcher on Monday.
Phuket Jellyfish Alert: Governor To Decide

Phuket Box Jellyfish: Biologist Sounds Alert
Phuket's Marine Biological Centre has issued an alert over the presence of box jellyfish in waters off Krabi and Phuket. Scientists are continuing to try to define more clearly the dangers, without unnecessary alarm.
Phuket Box Jellyfish: Biologist Sounds Alert

Box Jellyfish Found Off Phuket: Death in Krabi
The death of a tourist off Krabi and the discovery of a non-fatal form of box jellyfish off Phuket bring a call for help - and a claim that many more deaths go unrecorded.
Box Jellyfish Found Off Phuket: Death in Krabi

Comments

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If there is an update to a story - in this case a fairly important update - I think you should send a separate email and update the hotlist on the side of the webpage. Otherwise most people will not return to a story to discover that in fact it was not really a box jellyfish. In its current format, the story appears to be scaremongering.
Editor: In the above story, the lone jellyfish captured on the northern east coast was confirmed as a ''boxie.'' The others subsequently captured by fishermen were not. So both pieces of information are correct. We should have a more comprehensive and perhaps less confusing article coming soon.

Posted by Anonymous on January 5, 2009 09:50

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Anon, please be well assured that the boxies are here in Thai waters, both types. This is not scaremongering, just fact ok. Just like there are lion fish, stone fish and scorpion fish, just be more aware while swimming, that's all.
For a probable solution, I propose that all hotels with swimming access to the sea put up bottom to top nets in an area of 100 meters square, to protect bathers. Yes, like sharknets. This could work. Hotels put out bouys to mark safe swimming areas and protect bathers from jetskis and boats, so why not do the same to protect against jellies and other stingers ???

Posted by Graham on January 5, 2009 10:40


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