I still remember the first time I was stung
by a Jellyfish. It was at 'Walls' in Waikiki. The funny thing is
that it's not the pain that issued lasting trauma, as much as the sight of
my buddy starting to whip his 'equipment' out of his trunks.
"Hold still. " he said, fumbling with his drawstring and his
built-in swimshort web panty (what is the purpose of that anyway? Oh
well, a story for another day..). I wasted no time in hurling a hunk
of sand at his face, striking him square in the mouth.
No, he wasn't trying anything weird or experimentational... He was
trying to treat the Jellyfish sting the best way he knew how - to pee on
my wound and treat me like a doggie treats a fire hydrant. Needless
to say, I passed on the remedy and toughed it out. Even though it
hurt like hell for hours afterward, it saved our relationship from
venturing into the 'uncomfortable' zone.
The Hawaiian Box Jellyfish usually appears in mass quantities about 7-10
days after a full moon, and usually on the South Shores (especially
tending towards Sandy Beach/Waimanalo/Hanauma Bay on the SouthEast, and
Waikiki and Ala Moana on the South Shores). It's been in the news a
lot lately as literally hundreds are coming out of the water with nasty
The Box is one of
the most venomous sea creatures around. People can easily die from
multiple stings or allergies to the Jellyfish. They aren't vicious
creatures and don't go after you like Jaws... Rather they float around
with the tides and actually attempt to avoid striking objects. They
have 4 eyes, spaced evenly around it's body, which allow the Jellyfish to
process information from 360 around it's bell shaped head. The box
jellyfish here can have up to 60 tentacles that can reach over 3 meters
long. These tentacles are designed to help immobilize the Box
Jellyfishes Dinner. Transparent and Invisible, swimmers often have a
tough time spotting the danger until it is too late.
Once an unfortunate swimmer comes in contact with the box jellyfish
tentacles, stingers called nematocysts are stimulated. Each of these
nematocysts fire both a barb and poison into the victim, and the stinger
is, as Lionel Richie put it, "Stuck on You".
Myths of the Box Jellyfish Antidote
THE SHI-SHI SOLUTION: Well, let's take
a look at that 'shi-shi' antidote, shall we? It has never been
proven to work, and actually may cause some of the unfired nematocysts on
the stinger to fire and inflict more damage, poison, and pain. The
only effect I can see Shi-Shi having is that the victim forgets all about
the pain of the experience because he/she is so disgusted by getting a
MEAT TENDERIZERS: Also not proven to
lessen or deactivate any of the effect of a box jelly sting. Most
this will do is make your skin nice and soft - Probably attract more
sharks also. Get away from me if you want to go swimming smelling
like a juicy steak.
VINEGAR: Of all the common remedies,
this one seems to have the most well documented effect. The
goal here is to render the stingers inactive so they don't inject any
further poison into your system.
Let's say you're
stung... What do you do?
If you have some, pour vinegar on the tentacles first. Then
remove any remaining tentacles from your body. Use a stick so you
don't get stung on the fingers, and lift the tentacle off of you.
Once I was stung by a jellyfish that somehow journeyed up the leg of my
trunks and stung me on the inner thigh. People were looking at me as
I grabbed a stick and started shoving it violently up my shorts. If
you need to rinse off the tentacle or put water on it, use sea water, as
fresh water will activate the unfired stingers. If you start feeling
queasy, dizzy, or weak, get medical attention right away - Jellyfish
poison works on the respiratory as well as pulmonary systems.
I still love my buddy and the sacrifice he was willing to make for
me. I'd suck the poison from a rattlesnake wound and give mouth to
mouth to anyone in need, but when it comes to Jellyfish
stings? I make sure I've packed my handy bottle of vinegar in
my beach bag... Just in case.