The Celestial Cnidarian: Moon Jellyfish
One of the most common underwater inhabitants you’ll come across while in the ocean is the Moon Jellyfish. These see-through wonders float like a butterfly and sting like a bee—almost quite literally. If you’re swimming along the coast and feel a sharp sting—don’t panic! It might just be a moon jellyfish sting. If one of these creatures is to blame, read on to learn what steps you should take.
Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), also known as the common jellyfish, inhabit much of the world’s oceans, both tropical and arctic. Living just under two-years, they truly do brace the rock-’n’-roll life style: they live fast, die young. But they reproduce like rabbits. Moon jellyfish posses three or four gonads (our dangling bits) that lie in the center of their mantel. These circular structures incubate either sperm or egg gametes.
The Sting—How it Works
So you’ve found yourself at the near-enough vicinity of a moon jellyfish to be stung. It’s not life or death—but it still hurts. But what exactly is the mechanism at hand that’s able to inject such a searing serum? There’s no visible fangs, no forewarning stinger. Just an opaque, naked tentacle. But it’s far from bare; it’s clothed in a sheet of self-actuating nematocysts. Strung together by thousands of these microscopic, hypodermic-like needles, nematocysts are, quite literally, are cocked and loaded harpoons, lying dormant till an external stimuli is present.
How to Handle It
Unfortunately, your skin just so happened to be that catalyzing stimulus. Luckily for you, treating the toxin is quite simple—almost too simple. First order of business, carefully remove any lingering tentacles present on your skin—using some cloth or gloves is suggested. Once the tentacles are removed, grab a bottle of white vinegar. Dousing the afflicted area will retard the detonation of yet-fired nematocyst, simultaneously degrading any venom is comes in contact with. Once that’s all done, it’s a simple waiting game.
A sting from a moon jellyfish is similar to that of a bee, so once you’ve treated the area with vinegar, it’s up to your preference on dealing with the resonating pain. Most of the time some ibuprofen or aspirin comes in handy.
How to NOT Get Stung
This one’s quite simple: watch your step, and avoid areas known to be frequented by “swarms.” Moon jellies can sometimes be very difficult to see, so do your research before heading into the water.