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Giant ''sumo'' jellyfish causing trouble off Japan

Phuket Jellyfish: Warning Cover 'Makes No Sense'

Tuesday, February 9, 2010
SIGNS placed on the holiday island of Koh Lanta warning visitors about jellyfish stings were blacked over by locals, a seminar on marine stingers was told on Phuket today.

Dr Somchai Bussarawit, who has been leading Thailand's research on jellyfish, told the gathering that it was important to be honest about risks in the water.

''People must be told the facts accurately,'' he said. ''This is about telling people how to be protected from danger. They have to be warned.''

His comments follow the death of a Swedish woman tourist from box jellyfish stings on Langkawi late last month, a significant event that the mainstream Malaysian media has so far failed to report.

By contrast, reaction to the global spread of jellyfish and its likely effect on Phuket has been to involve the tourism industry in an open fashion.

Phuket's mangrove east coast is a nursery for some non-deadly species, Dr Somchai told about 30 representatives from local authorities, resorts, hospitals, tour busnesses and the Public Health office today.

Dr Somchai and two Public Health officials have recently completed study tours to Australia, where the spread of box jellyfish and the much smaller irakanji is being closely monitored.

While there is no cause for alarm, the Langkawi fatality and the death of an 11-year-old Swedish tourist on Koh Lanta in April 2008 are indications that highly toxic Chironex box jellyfish are already in the region.

Other deaths attributed to the ''boxie'' have previously been recorded in the Gulf of Thailand.

Worldwide, jellyfish are spreading and adapting rapidly as their natural predators are overfished or neglected.

Phuket's popular west coast beaches were invaded by non-deadly jellyfish in January last year.

Researchers believe an ususual stream of colder water drew them up from the deep to Patong, Nai Harn and other Phuket beaches.

Thailand has become the regional centre for advanced jellyfish research, with the Department of Epidemiology in Bangkok organising today's seminar.

Vinegar, the only known treatment for the worst of the jellyfish stings, has been widely distributed to resorts and other key points around the coast of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.

Experts at the seminar included Dr Potjaman Sirirayaporn, Dr Rojana Watanarangsan, and Dr Lakana Thaiker. Among the audience were Sea Canoe environmentalist John Gray and Nick Anthony of Indigo Real Estate.
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Comments

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This reads like the plot from Jaws.

Posted by Bernie on February 9, 2010 14:05

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errr... vinegar ISNT the only thing you can use. Urine works too.... and NEITHER will save you from a boxie sting.

Editor: Vinegar, the experts say, combats the toxins. It does not ease the pain. And in the absence of vinegar, soft drink may be better than nothing. Victims have survived boxie stings, thanks to vinegar.

Posted by sandman on February 9, 2010 15:48

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Just another case of people more concerned for their income then for the safety of tourist. Who is to say that it is locals and not just local business owners though?

Disgusting really. Like the Laleena guest house incident.

Posted by Vfaye on February 9, 2010 22:22

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Not only have the media in Malaysia ignored the tragedy but the Malaysian government has officially attributed cause of death to drowning when eye-witness reports (ie. the victim's husband) refer to screams of agony (drowning?), pulling jellyfish tentacles from the body (drowning?) and paramedics arriving late but saying there was little they could do because it was a Box Jellyfish (drowning?).

Thankfully for tourism in Thailand the government as is evidenced by this conference and positive actions are not burying their heads in the sand or simply paying lip service. In the long run, tourism in Phuket and Thailand will be better off.

Posted by Andrew on February 10, 2010 16:06

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Readers may be interested to know that it took Australia many years to systematically address the hazards of major Chironex fleckeri box jellyfish stings (with public education, beach signage, stinger suits, stinger nets, beachside vinegar and a box jellyfish antivenom).

However, since sting prevention and treatment activities were introduced, we have seen a significant reduction in this type of sting and the associated fatalities. Nevertheless, historically, and currently, the main victims are not international tourists but local children.

I would encourage readers to especially focus on the benefits of protecting our children from these marine hazards.

Posted by Dr Ken Winkel (australian Venom Research Unit, Melbourne) on February 11, 2010 13:44

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Overfishing is the cause, due to the greed of obese first worlders. Maybe if overfishing affects people's holidays, those greedy amongst us might start caring more about sustainable fishing practices. Until then, expect more and more jellyfish the world over!

Posted by Laylah on January 4, 2014 18:01


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