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Babes, celebs and jellyfish: page 17 from a 'Daily Star' this week

I Survived Killer Box Jellyfish Wrap, Says British Tourist

Thursday, July 14, 2011
PHUKET: A British woman says she survived a box jellyfish sting on a Krabi beach when others have died screaming in excruciating pain from such an experience.

Victoria Rose, 29, told Britain's most sensational tabloid, the Daily Star, that she was swimming on Phra Nang beach on the last day of her holiday when ''I felt something brush against my body and then I felt stinging pain all over. I ran out of the sea.''

When she looked down, the newspaper relates, she ''saw her body was wrapped in translucent tentacles.''

''I was screaming at the top of my voice,'' the Star quoted her as saying. ''I had about four long tentacles entwined round my arms, legs and torso.

''I had to carefully peel them off. I didn't know what to do with myself because I was in so much pain. I was finding it very difficult to breathe. I struggled with my breathing for a couple of hours.''

Ms Rose, who according to the newspaper was able to control her breathing because she suffers from asthma, caught a flight home to Britain the next day and presented herself to her local GP, who was ''mystified'' by her scarred body.

Australian jellyfish expert Dr Peter Fenner is said to have confirmed that a box jellyfish, classed as the world's most toxic creature, was responsible. The article does not say whether he had been sent photographs of Ms Rose's wounds.

A photograph with the article of what appears to be a box jellyfish wound to a leg is not identified as being Ms Rose.

Box jellyfish stings can be fatal if the skin area struck by tentacles is sufficiently large. The best emergency treatment, says Dr Lisa Gershwin, Director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, is to apply common vinegar to the tentacles and the wound area immediately.

The Phuket Marine Biology Centre has been leading a campaign in Thailand and Malaysia to increase awareness about the dangers of box jellyfish and the treatment of stings.

It is not known, though, whether marine surveys have found box jellyfish numbers increasing or decreasing.

Nevertheless, vinegar should be standard in all emergency medical packs throughout the region, the Public Health department advises.

Sweden's honorary consul for Phuket and the Andaman region, Dr Sompoch Nipakanont, confirmed in November last year that three Swedish tourists had been killed by box jellyfish over the past three years in the Gulf of Thailand, the east coast of Phang Nga Bay, and an island near Langkawi in Malayasia.

Although there have been box jellyfish sightings in the seas off Phuket, no confirmed box jellyfish sightings or stings have been reported on any of Phuket's popular west coast beaches.
No Phuket Deaths from Box Jellyfish: Misinformation Shocks Expert
Latest No deaths have occurred on Phuket from box jellyfish, the Swedish honorary consul said today in reporting that three Swedes have died in three years from the toxic tentacles.
No Phuket Deaths from Box Jellyfish: Misinformation Shocks Expert

Jellyfish Menace Spreads in Thailand Waters
Latest Confirmation of the presence of a deadly form of box jellyfish in Thai waters lends weight to the need for a strategy for the likely treatment of more jellyfish stings in future.
Jellyfish Menace Spreads in Thailand Waters

Marine Stings Put French Boy in Phuket Hospital
Latest A four year old French boy was recovering in hospital after a drama at the southern Phuket beach of Nai Harn. Public Health officials are determining the cause of his pain.
Marine Stings Put French Boy in Phuket Hospital

Swedish Girl Survives Box Jellyfish Attack
Latest Have there been unreported deaths from box jellyfish in Thailand? The mother of a Swedish girl who narrowly survived an attack says she was told there have been unreported deaths.
Swedish Girl Survives Box Jellyfish Attack

Alarm as Box Jellyfish Kills Tourist on Langkawi
Breaking News Latest A box jellyfish is being blamed for the death of a Swedish tourist on Langkawi. Concern about the possible presence of marine stingers is being reignited by media reports.
Alarm as Box Jellyfish Kills Tourist on Langkawi

On Phuket Beaches, 'Tis the Season to be Jelly
Latest Last year's jellyfish alarms did not produce reports of large numbers of serious stings. But if jellyfish do arrive on Phuket, what precautions should be taken?
On Phuket Beaches, 'Tis the Season to be Jelly

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Dear Alan,

If you had spoken to me before writing the above article I would be in a position to inform you that several photographs were sent to Professor Fenner, along with a lengthy exchange of emails regarding the sting and my symptoms after it had happened. I can send you the emails if you wish along with a full length shot of me and my savaged body to prove this story? Then perhaps you can rewrite the above article correctly?

Victoria

Posted by Victoria on July 14, 2011 14:53

Editor Comment:

Hello Victoria,
We seldom accept the Daily Star on face value as a factual source of information.
Although we've yet to see photographic evidence, we don't doubt you were stung by something.
However, marine biologists tell us they have failed to find the type of box jellyfish mentioned in the report in their regular survey of the waters of the region. This is not necessarily evidence, either, that they're not there.
We've covered jellyfish sightings and stings in the region for three years and always like to check the facts first for ourselves.
You chose not to respond to my email request yesterday for a telephone number, so it hardly seems fair to blame us for not communicating with you.

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The image online on the Daily Star with its distinctive scarring pattern and detail clearly shows that a large box jellyfish was responsible. This has been confirmed by Dr Fenner it seems who has been quoted. The details of the story certainly are typical of a box jellyfish sting. At nearby Koh Lanta a Swedish girl was killed by a box jellyfish a few years ago - this was confirmed! There are deadly box jellyfish in the region. Perhaps the surveys are not undertaken at the right locations, under the right conditions, using the right equipment, using the3 right techniques, at regular intervals?? They are transparent, they have vision, they swim quickly, they are not so easy to catch if the testing process is not appropriate. Phuket Wan has been great in bringing this issue to the attention of readers and providing a balanced perspective since the menace seriously surfaced in 2008. There have been many false sightings and exaggerations since so being factually correct is of course a must. Without actually capturing the box jellyfish in question, this is as close as you will get to the facts.

Posted by Andrew on July 14, 2011 18:33

Editor Comment:

Indeed. Thanks, Andrew. The online version of the article we saw neglected to carry a caption linking the photograph to Ms Rose. For all online readers of the Star know, it could have been unconnected and pulled from the Star's ''box jellyfish'' files. The most intriguing aspect of the story is whether breathing regularly or to any other pattern can help people to survive. That deserves further research - it could save lives. Are there other marine creatures that leave weals like a box jellyfish, but without the same levels of toxicity? There is no doubt the box jellyfish is a nasty critter, but can we be absolutely sure - without actually having the suspect captured - this was a ''boxie''? As you know, I'm obliged to play Devil's Advocate. The region's tourism industry needs to respond to real dangers. A regular, thorough survey will certainly help.

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I was stung two years ago while swimming at Nai Harn. I was told that BOX jelly fish are not in Thailand waters and it must have been something else.

I saw the jelly fish and have made no mistake with type it was.

Vinegar did NOTHING to relieve the pain.

HOT water under the shower gave instant relief from the pain and honey took away the swelling and welts.

I have a scar from the sting and daily photos were taken as the sting festered over 4 - 5 weeks.

Posted by Danny @ Phuket on July 14, 2011 18:44

Editor Comment:

Vinegar does not relieve the pain, Danny, but it does rapidly reduce the toxicity. If it's not applied, the internal damage can continue.

The world's seas are filled with jellyfish of all kinds. So far the dangerous ones have not been spotted in significant quantities off Phuket, and jellyfish stings are not considered a hazard at Phuket beaches.

People would be happier, though, to read the results of regular marine surveys confirming the safety of Phuket's beaches. If ''boxies'' are in the neighborhood - and we know they are - then visitors need to be constantly reassured.

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No confirmed sightings of box jellyfish on the west coast? Are you kidding me?

You reported on the box jellyfish I caught at Bang Tao, one of TWO I have caught there and given specimen to the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Posted by Khun Tina on July 14, 2011 19:01

Editor Comment:

That was on December 30 2008 and fully reported soon after. The specimen ''was subsequently washed overboard by a friend who did not realise it was being kept in a bucket for reference.''

One or even two boxies back in 2008, away from the popular beaches, is hardly cause for general panic three years later, Khun Tina.

Have you caught any since? What we need are proper surveys.

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My brother was stung by a box jellyfish near the north end of Patong Beach in 2009. He went into cardiac arrest three times after which he was placed in a medically induced coma to prevent brain damage for nine days. Luckily he made a speedy recovery after that, but if he had not been only 28 years old and a rugby player, the story may have been different. I imagine anyone with any kind of heart condition would be killed outright on the spot. These creatures are extremely dangerous.

Posted by Brian on July 14, 2011 19:13

Editor Comment:

They certainly are, Brian. How was it confirmed as a box jellyfish? Can you recall which hospital he was treated at?

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Yes Alan, I did catch another a year ago, the PMBC have the specimen. I have since caught other box jellyfish species on the island, but on the east coast. Why are you saying that there have not been any confirmed sightings on the west coast?

Bang Tao is on the west coast and the jellyfish was confirmed by Dr Busarawit. I think people should know that there are (SOME) Box Jellyfish on the west coast. Not cause for alarm, but cause for preparedness.

Posted by Khun Tina on July 14, 2011 20:35

Editor Comment:

Boxies can swim and travel long distances alone, so there's always the danger of one or two turning up anywhere. If there have been no reports since 2008/2009, except for your lone catch last year, then it could be that there are fewer about now than there were then. What's alarming is to read in the British press that someone is ''campaigning to warn holidaymakers of the dangers of swimming in the sea off Thailand.'' The PMBC really need to be telling the media how many boxies they have found in the region, and precisely where.

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A good place for information is irukandjijellyfish dot com, the site also has information on how to treat stings.

I am curious - as irukandji is so small - what type of box jellyfish was this that had long tentacles that wrapped around her arms and legs?

Posted by Dawn on July 14, 2011 22:16

Editor Comment:

The Daily Star reports that it was a chironex box jellyfish, although this is based on what a local says. The wounds certainly are boxie-like. The Phuket Marine Biological Centre says it has ''continued a survey every three months for about one year at the tourist area in Krabi to find out the species of jellyfish. And at present we only found Morbakka cf. fenneri, Chiropsoides butendijki, and Chiropsella sp.''

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I had previously read that a Swedish tourist had died from a sting near Krabi so Box Jellies obviously do exist! The Thai tourist industry is obviously behaving in a greedy manner by not informing the tourists of the dangers and playing down the reports of stings.

Posted by Vanessa on July 15, 2011 01:41

Editor Comment:

You probably read about it on Phuketwan, Vanessa. Reporting these events is the responsibility of the media, which relies on public health officials and an honest, transparent system. Drowning at Karon is a far more real and present danger, though, than a box jellyfish strike.

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Yes, I agree Alan, the media does need to be alerted of sightings/collections, but there is the potential of course for overreaction, which would cause a lot of damage to an already suffering dive/tourism industry. However, people need to know a small danger exists. I have no doubt the British woman was stung by a Box Jellyfish.

Box Jellyfish are very powerful, wilful swimmers. When I have captured them, they've been the only jellies to survive overnight in capture, apart from still swimming repeatedly in a forceful manner at the sides of the container.

One large BJ that I photographed in Langkawi actually used this method of smacking into the piers to disturb potential food, which was very interesting, particularly to watch it eat. It appears that Langkawi has a far greater jellyfish problem than Phuket, as I have spotted many there.

The other two species I know of in Phuket waters that cause extremely bad stings are the Chrysaora Melanaster (aka Lion's Mane or Sea Wasp and the Portuguese Man of War (Blue Bottle), which were recently found in large numbers on the beaches in Phuket. I personally found some on Bang Tao Beach.

There is a need for warning, but not panic and there is a need that people are aware a danger exists. Just because there have only been a few BJ found on the west coast, it shouldn't sound as though the coast is clear, because it's not.

Posted by Khun Tina on July 15, 2011 13:46

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So Andrew there are no box jellyfish in Thailand? You're saying that the boxies that are stinging people do not exist? What about this story? http://www.abc.net.au/health/yourstories/stories/2008/12/04/2437041.htm
It's high time that people like you in the Thai tourist industry stopped being greedy and started thinking about saving innocent lives.

Posted by Vanessa on July 31, 2011 06:36

Editor Comment:

Vanessa, your assessment of the situation in 2011 is wildly exaggerated. Reports of box jellyfish in Thai waters remain extremely rare and stings are even rarer. There are not as many reports now as there were even three years ago, which indicates that the box jellyfish population is not increasing in Thai waters. The danger from rip currents or anglers being swept from rocks remains much greater and both claim many more lives. Thai health authorities continue to reassess the situation. Australia's box jellyfish problem is off the scale compared to the present situation in Thailand. Perhaps you should be pursuing greater action there?

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Ok Alan so there are no box jellyfish in Thailand, if there were any box jellyfish two years ago, they only showed up to sting a couple of people who died, but now they have swam away again?

No no there is no nothing dangerous and anyone who reports being stung in the press must either be lying or have grudge on Thailand?

No there are no scams in Thailand No no there is no prostitution, all the tuk tuks are honest, especially those in Phuket. There is only clean food at the food stalls, no danger, never ever.....

Denial denial denial. Greed greed greed.

Posted by Vanessa on August 5, 2011 04:00

Editor Comment:

Somebody needs to tell you, Vanessa, that there is no link between box jellyfish and prostitution, scams and bad food.
No other media outlet has reported legitimate sightings of box jellyfish (and scams and bad food, for that matter) as often as Phuketwan. We don't create fear without facts. Why do you?

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Whether its a box jellyfish or not, still, its not easy to endure something so toxic. Must've been a terrifying experience. But are there levels of toxin when it comes to jellyfish stings??

Please dont judge me. Im just really curious and I dont really know much about jellyfish(es?)

Posted by micanikko on January 22, 2015 00:28


Tuesday June 25, 2019
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