Jellyfish Blooming may persist until May: Minister

KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Sabah Junz Wong said Department of Fisheries Sabah (DOFS) has despatched a team to investigate on blooming jellyfish at Tanjung Aru Beach.

He told reporters, in responding to reports of blooming jellyfish particularly in the West Coast of Sabah since early this year.

The DOFS team was led by Dr.Shuhadah Mustapha from the Fisheries Biosecurity Office in Likas.

Junz said the team was able to tentatively identified one dominant jellyfish known as “obor-obor pasir”, jellyfish with small black spotted. The tentacles of this species can cause itch and/or allergic reactions upon contact with skin causing inflammation and swelling on affected body part of a victim.

“The blooming could be due to the favourable weather conditions. The jellyfish season is expected to persist throughout this dry and hot weather condition. Probably until May this year.” Junz informed.

Junz advised the public in order to prevent from being stung, they should wear full body swimming suit whenever possible.

Junz also advised the public to avoid picking up dead jellyfish. Dead jellyfish may still have live nematocysts that can still release toxins (even after they have dried up).

The public should comply with warning instructions and whereby red flags are erected on swimming areas where jellyfishes are present to warn all swimmers not to go in the water.

“Above all, you should stay vigilant at ALL TIME in the sea.” Junz stressed.

Symptoms of the box jellyfish include excruciating pain upon contact and cardiac and respiratory arrest can occur within minutes. There will be many large red welts marks
in the body where there has been contacted.

What to do when stung by Box Jellyfish :

1. Get out of the water immediately.

2. Pick any tentacles you can see off your body with a towel. Don’t rub the area.

3. Do not try to scrape the tentacles off (with hands, wet sand or any item, or apply pressure), as this will trigger more stinging cells to fire venom into the body.

4. Douse the area profusely with vinegar for at least 30 seconds as this stops any un-discharged stinging cells.

Vinegar (3–10% aqueous acetic acid) may be used as a common remedy to help with box
jellyfish stings.

Flushing with vinegar is used to deactivate undischarged nematocysts to prevent the release of additional venom.

5. Fresh water is not usually used if the sting occurs in salt water, as this may cause the nematocysts to fire more venom.

6. Contact medical staff as soon as possible, urgent medical assistance will be required.

7. Someone may advise you to rub sand on wound or wash with urine. DON’T DO IT, as these unproven measures can worsen the situation. Rubbing wounds, or using alcohol, spirits, ammonia, or urine may have strong negative effects as these can encourage the release of venom.