Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Attack of the Jellyfish!!!!
The latest “big event” here at Paa Mul was Teslin swimming head on into a Portugese Man of War some 10 minutes out from the beach during a group swim. We all had been snorkeling along the outer reef for 45 minutes or so and had decided to head for shore when Teslin started screaming. She had been bringing up the rear and was swimming hard to catch up when she must have swum head first into the jellyfish. Its tentacles wrapped around her neck and draped over her back to her waist before breaking off. The pain from this particular jellyfish is known as one of the worst and is described by divers as if a bucket of fire had been poured on you. Anny was the closest to Teslin when she started to scream so turned back to see if she could help but upon reaching her found she could not keep both of them above water. She called for me and I swam the 70-80 yards between us and we all started toward the beach some 10-15 minutes swim away. Teslin was beside herself and was screaming quite forcefully that it hurt and that it was burning her. She was able to hang onto my neck and be kept afloat on my back as I swam in as fast as I could. The swimming and waves pulled off all of the tentacles as we swam which was lucky as they continue to inject their poison as long as they are attached to their victims even after they are pulled off of the jellyfish. We finally made it to shore where we asked for some advice on what to do before heading back to our trailer. Teslin was having difficulty not screaming which made for some excitement for the pool crowd that day. We did some quick Internet searches for treatment options and gave Teslin some Benadryl and Ibuprofen while cleaning the area with vinager and finally after about an hour she was able to stop her screams and just sob when the pain increased periodically. She had large welts across her back and front of her neck and redness to many other areas of her back and fingers where the tentacles had either latched on or brushed against her skin.
We did not see the actual body of the jellyfish which Teslin ran in to so walked the beach that afternoon and the next morning to see if any were washing up on shore. To our amazement, we found many Portugese Man of War who were just washing up on shore north and south of our swimming area. The dive shop said that they had not seen these in our bay for 5+ years and were surprised by their presence. These jellyfish are quite beautiful as well as deadly and we did a lot of reading about them over the next 24 hours. I’ve included pictures of both the Portugese M of W that we found and Teslin after her experience.
We were all reminded of the importance of keeping your eyes open while swimming and also how aware one should be out there in the ocean. We all learned from the experience though Teslin had to pay the biggest price.
Posted by The Roving Ruges