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Aug 26, 2014

Jellyfish sting at least 400 at Florida beaches

Even though jellyfish don’t quite receive the same attention as shark attacks, they are far more likely to sting beachgoers. (Photo : TWITTER/@WTSP10News)

By Rida Ahmed [email protected]

Even though jellyfish don’t quite receive the same attention as shark attacks, they are far more likely to sting beachgoers, Reuters reported. At least 400 beachgoers were stung by jellyfish over the weekend at the Florida beaches, prompting lifeguards to raise purple flags warning of hazardous marine life off the state’s east coast, authorities said on Monday.

This past weekend, the jellyfish swarm arrived on Friday and has remained concentrated along Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, on the Atlantic coast in the north-central part of the state.

However, the swarm is actually not something new for the area, said Volusia County Beach Safety Captain Tammy Marris, adding that the county beaches see this size of a swarm about a dozen times a year. “Jellyfish and anything in the water are at the mercy of the current and the winds,” Marris told USA TODAY Network.

“It could be thousands. It’s hard to see them in the water right now. All you can see are the ones on shore,” Marris told Reuters.

Surfer Jerry Phillips was standing in the ocean with his daughter when he was stung, he told Orlando’s WESH-TV. “I think the tentacles wrapped all the way around my leg and really stung me,” he told the station. “I did scream a little bit.”

“They were all over and all in multiple sizes,” beachgoer Michelle Craycraft told WFTV. Winnie Kuna told WFTV that her daughter was stung when she walked into a swarm. “She got stung, and like, 12 welts popped up across her leg,” Kuna said. “We were all out of there real quick.”

But no one suffered serious injuries. Lifeguards treated most of the victims with a splash of vinegar, which quickly halts the burning pain of the sting.

Jellyfish, who sting with their tentacles, can be dangerous or fatal in rare cases in which the victim is severely allergic to the venom, according to the National Science Foundation. Appearing in various colors but typically a translucent milky color on central Florida beaches, a number of home remedies can be used to treat the stings, including vinegar and salt water. Lifeguards, Reuters reported, stock vinegar to provide instant relief.

With only four reports of jellyfish stings on Monday, it appears the jellyfish have been carried back out to the ocean, Marris said.

Meanwhile, “the Orlando Sentinel reported, just two weeks ago, jellyfish stung more than 400 people at the same beaches that came under attack over the weekend. About 200,000 people are stung annually in Florida, according to the National Science Foundation,” the Washington Post reported.

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