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The Truth About Getting Stung by a Lionfish

Posted by Erin Spencer in Explorers Journal on August 8, 2013

“It won’t kill you, but it’ll make you wish you were dead”.

That’s how Mike Ryan described a lionfish sting as he briefed a boat full of people before an afternoon dive. Mike, an instructor at Horizon Divers in Key Largo, developed the Lionfish Safari Diver course for recreational divers to learn about invasive lionfish and try their hand at hunting the fish themselves. For a group of inexperienced hunters, that was probably the last thing we wanted to hear.

That wasn’t the first time someone warned me about the stings of this invasive predator. When you’re dealing with lionfish, the topic is bound to come up. In almost every interview I conducted, the conversation eventually turned to a dramatically recounted story of the time (or times) the interviewee was stung, each tale more cringe-worthy than the last. And while it’s clear that getting pricked by a lionfish is no walk in the park, stings can be easily avoided by proper handling techniques and safety measures. Be sure to keep the following three things in mind when dealing with lionfish to decrease your risk of getting stung.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish spines are used defensively, not offensively.

Lionfish spines are used as a deterrent for predators rather than for hunting prey. So don’t worry- lionfish aren’t about to ambush unsuspecting divers or swimmers. Lionfish only use their weapons defensively; therefore simply steering clear of their venomous dorsal, ventral, and anal spines can avoid stings.

If you are stung, a loose sheath surrounding each spine is pushed down, compressing two venom glands located down then length of the spine. Neurotoxic venom then travels through two parallel grooves up the spine and into the wound. Sounds unpleasant, right? Better just to avoid the spines in the first place.

Lionfish safety applies both on and off the water. 

The overwhelming majority of lionfish stings result from people simply not paying attention.

Stings can occur even after the lionfish is dead.

Stings can occur even after the fish have died, so handlers should be aware of their lionfish at all times, whether they are underwater, on a boat, or back in the kitchen filleting the fish up for dinner. I heard many stories of victims unknowingly sticking their hands into coolers containing lionfish and finding a painful surprise inside.

 

So make sure everyone you’re with knows where the lionfish are located, as well as which of the fishes’ spines are dangerous. Some handlers (myself included) choose to use medical-grade puncture-proof gloves to help protect from stings. Although these gloves don’t protect all potential sting sites, they decrease the risk of accidental envemonation when handling the fish.

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Just in case, know what to do if you get stung.

Even if you follow all the safety precautions, sometimes mistakes happen. Immediate first response can help decrease pain and swelling, so have a plan in place if you or anyone you’re with is going to be handling lionfish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends immersing the wound in hot (but not scalding) water for about 30 minutes as soon as possible after the sting occurs – this helps denature the lionfish venom and decrease pain.

If necessary, remove any spines still located in the wound. Lionfish stings are rarely fatal, but in extreme cases nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions can result, so monitor symptoms closely. One spear fisherman swore that if someone had offered to amputate his stung foot, he would have accepted the invitation gladly.

On the other hand, a divemaster I spoke with said he barely noticed the pain when he was stung, and didn’t experience any swelling or adverse effects. Ultimately, everyone seems to respond to stings differently. Most people I talked to experienced some pain and swelling for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

The important thing to remember is this: the more you know about stings, the more effectively you can prevent them. Pay attention to your lionfish at all times and have a plan in place in case you or a friend gets stung. There are quite a few examples of people who have dealt with large quantities of lionfish and have never been stung, proving that with proper handling and a bit of luck, you can avoid envenomation. But remember, on the off chance you do get pricked, you’ll at least have a great lionfish war-story to tell your friends.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

Jellyfish return to nation’s coast

They’re back!  And we’re not talking hurricanes, though that season is officially underway.  And, no, this is not about sharks, since Discovery’s Shark Week doesn’t start until August.

No, it’s time for the increasingly unpopular annual return of swarms of jellyfish to beaches around the world. Last year they made much of the western Mediterranean unswimmable. A couple of weekend’s ago – the official start of summer — thousands of nasty, golf-ball sized jellyfish washed ashore on Florida’s east coast, stinging beach goers as they arrive. Red and Purple warning flags were posted on beaches from Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral.

In large part thanks to the over fishing of big predator fish and warmer ocean waters, jellies are showing up sooner, in bigger numbers and far beyond home territories. For the first time since 2006, the Portuguese Man o War are in numbers along the New England coast particularly the Hamptons.  In Florida they clogged the shallows and took over the wet sand of the beach. Lifeguard stands stocked up with vinegar-and-water solutions to help try and diffuse the itching, burning and rashes, which beats urinating on them, though its proven that OCS Jellyfish sting relief neutralizes the sting and helps alleviate itching and swelling.

IMG_3501     ManOWar-kit

Despite air temps in the 90’s and water temperature of 80+, it’s not just the abundance of jellyfish in Florida’s that was surprising, it was the species. Large numbers of animals washing ashore are the Pelagia Noctiluca or mauve stinger, the cannonball and the Portuguese Man o War although not in abundance yet.  Compact but fitted with long tentacles, these are exactly the same jellyfish that harassed Mediterranean beaches during the summer of 2012 and present this summer.

jellyfish..Mauve

Scientists believe they were transported across the Atlantic in the Gulf Stream, which wraps around the coast of Florida, suggesting they will be a hindrance on many Gator state beaches this summer. Meanwhile across the pond, biologists who study the Irish Sea are blaming a similar boom in jellyfish there on the overfishing of herring, which has given jellyfish an “exponential boost” in population. The trend has been growing since 2005.

Though explanation for why these jellyfish on these beaches is still being studied, it’s clear that since humankind has taken 100 to 120 million tons of predators out of the sea in the past 20 years it’s left plenty of room for jellyfish populations to boom. Jellyfish thrive in disturbed marine ecosystems, from dead zones to seabeds that have been raked by trawling nets. And they are spreading around the world thanks to powerful currents and aided by stowing away on fleets of ships delivering goods around the globe.

Be sure to take along Ocean Care Solutions marine sting 1st aid products..your Solution for marine sting injuries…

Kina..New Zealand Sea Urchin

Sea urchins can be important consumers of rocky and soft-sediment habitats, and have been renowned for their capacity to alter habitat structure through their feeding activities. The best-known sea urchin in New Zealand is the endemic kina, Evechinus chloroticus, which can attain a large test size. Worldwide, there are about 800 species of echinoids.

In the New Zealand region, there are at least 90 species in 56 genera and 27 families, which contrasts with Australia’s echinoid fauna of 207 species in 95 genera and 32 families. Overall, at least 33% of the sea urchin species in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone are endemic.

SeaUrchin-kit

Be sure to take along the OCS Sea Urchin sting 1st aid kit..Light weight and durable with everything you need for immediate 1st aid sting relief..Don’t get stung without it !!

New jellyfish species discovered on Gold Coast..Australia

ABC News Gold Coast  

A curious child from Paradise Point is responsible for the discovery of a new species of box jellyfish found in a local canal.  Nine-year-old Saxon Thomas found the new species when fishing in his backyard canal.  Scientists have now confirmed the jellyfish is a new scientific discovery.

But Australian Marine Stinger Advisory services director Lisa Gershwin says there is a lot more to learn about it.  “We’re still trying to name it,” Ms Gershwin says.

“I haven’t met Saxon yet but my intention is to one of these days when I meet him ask him what he would like it to be named… I wanna give him the choice to name it because I think it’s such a wonderful thing that here’s these kids out playing with nature and going ‘hey wait, that’s different – what’s that?’ – and now we know. What a fabulous find.”

Queensland Museum’s marine expert Doctor Merrick Ekins has examined the jellyfish.

“A new species is always very exciting. We’ve got a bit more work to do to work out exactly what it is… but it’s definitely in the same family as the box jellyfish. But it’s not THE box jellyfish which is a big relief,” Dr Ekins says.

“The first thing we did was to make sure it wasn’t thechironex fleckeri box jellyfish that’s infamous for killing people, because if that’s suddenly appearing down here on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast then that would be a real issue for swimmers.”

However, it is not yet known if this new species is dangerous in its own way.

“We don’t know about that… whether it gives you a sting is most likely. It’s probably not life threatening but we don’t know.”

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Red Sea Fire Urchin…

Asthenosoma marisrubri (‘flexible body of the Red Sea’) aka Red Sea Fire Urchin and Toxic Leather Sea Urchin , is a relatively common sea urchin with a widespread distribution in the Indo-Pacific, and it subsists on a great variety of food including algae, coral polyps and bottom detritus. It is most active at night and is named for the extreme pain inflicted by its spines and its occurrence in the Red Sea.

SeaUrchin-kit

www.oceancaresolutions

Sea Urchin first aid kit

Don’t get stung without it!

 

Jellyfish Facts…The “Pink Meanie”

Meet the “pink meanie,” a new species of jellyfish discovered by scientists at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of California, Merced.From Discovery News–On the surface, this brightly colored jellyfish may not appear to be particularly extraordinary. According to DNA and morphological analysis, however, this marine animal, Drymonema larsoni, is not only a new species of jellyfish, but also a new family.

Found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the pink meanie is the first new scyphozoan family discovered since 1921.

“It’s rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long,” Keith Bayha, a scientist at at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said in a press release. “That it did is partially due to Drymonema‘s extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world.”

Discovery News

Photo: Jellyfish facts....#52....Meet the “pink meanie,” a new species of jellyfish discovered by scientists at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of California, Merced.</p>
<p>From Discovery News--On the surface, this brightly colored jellyfish may not appear to be particularly extraordinary. According to DNA and morphological analysis, however, this marine animal, Drymonema larsoni, is not only a new species of jellyfish, but also a new family.</p>
<p>Found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the pink meanie is the first new scyphozoan family discovered since 1921.</p>
<p>“It’s rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long,” Keith Bayha, a scientist at at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said in a press release.  “That it did is partially due to Drymonema‘s extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world.”</p>
<p>Discovery News

Dive Flag App Travels, Shop & Product Reviews

Product Review – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

About Ocean Care Solutions

Ocean Care Solutions’ (OCS) first aid products were developed by Kevin, a certified scuba diver. Kevin noticed that there was no convenient, proven medically effective, first aid products for stings from the Lionfish, the Man of War, the Sea Urchin, the Stingray, Fire Coral and Jellyfish. For two years Kevin consulted with international marine science and emergency medical communities to develop what they refer to as ‘the definitive Gold Standard’ for sea sting injuries. All OCS’s products have been developed without the reliance of myths, home remedies or guesswork.
Ron at OCS got in contact with Dive Flag App in a hope to have their product reviewed and publicized to Scuba Divers around the world. After initial discussions OCS sent us, here at Dive Flag App, a package containing a few hundred samples to test and distribute to other Dive Flag App members.  Today we had the opportunity to test their most ‘popular’ product the Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution (JSR Solution). This was a timely arrangement as Australia is currently experiencing an outbreak of jellyfish including the Blue Blubber Jellyfish (common name).

Product Description – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

OCS’s JSR Solution was developed to neutralize the stinging cells of jellyfish. The solution suspends any remaining pain causing nematocysts (stinging cells) from firing.  The directions of use are as follows:
  1.  Rinse the injury with salt water only,
  2.  Shake the spray and simultaneously press down on the top to pump the solution,
  3.  Apply the safe JSR Solution for 3-5 minutes, and then
  4.  Simply scrape away the pain.  Re-apply if necessary.
The application of the JSR solution is to ‘de-activate’ the jellyfish stinging cells. For the best results it is recommended that you apply the JSR Solution as soon as possible after having been stung. Delay in the use of this product limits effectiveness.
The JSR Solution comes in a small and convenient spray bottle made with medically recommended 5% acetic acid for the best results.

Product Trial

Dive Flag App were naturally skeptical about the effectiveness of OCS’s JSR Solution and so we decided to test the product out. Before reading further it is important to note that Dive Flag App did so under the supervision of trained emergency personnel and in no way is Dive Flag App suggesting that other members perform the following test.
Frank Vorster located two Blue Blubber Jellyfish in the Gold Coast Seaway, Queensland, Australia. He proceeded to sting himself in two ‘similar’ locations by lightly pressing up against the tentacles of the two jellyfish as they floated by. To one location he applied the JSR Solution and to the other he applied nothing. Eager to test the product out – others part-took in the experiment too.

Observations

  1. Within one minute, the stinging sensation on the hand with the JSR Solution started to subside whilst the second location’s continued to intensify as more stinging cells activated.
  2. After five minutes the stinging sensation on the location with the JSR Solution had all but faded completely, whilst the stinging sensation of the second location continued.
  3. Frank wiped the location with the JSR Solution as directed. The location where he had applied the JSR Solution appeared unaffected. Whilst having  wiped off the second location in a similar fashion had only activated the remaining stinging cells, effectively reactivating the sting.
  4. For a further 25 minutes Frank felt the stinging sensation on the second location whilst the location where the JSR Solution was applied felt “like it was never stung”.

Product Review

The JSR Solution performed as OCS had claimed. The product was easy to apply and immediately effective. The quality is guaranteed by OCS’s Californian manufacturing facility. A single 1oz bottle can be used to relieve 4 stings and the 4oz bottle can relieve up to 12 stings. With a shelf life of over 2 years the product can be stored without concern.
  • Price: 5/5
  • Effectiveness: 5/5
  • Quality: 5/5
  • Product Recommendation: Don’t get stung without it! Don’t go diving without it!
Dive Flag App highly recommend that all beach going, water sport activists and especially scuba divers keep a bottle of the solution in their bag. The product is incredible effective and useful.

Where to Buy the Product

Dive Flag App is so impressed with the effectiveness of the solution, we have worked out an arrangement with Ocean Care Solutions to become the exclusive distributor for these products. Dive Flag App is currently developing an on-line store where you can buy the product. If you would like a sample, to purchase some units for personal use or become a retailer for these products, simply email us for more information: info@diveflagapp.com .

Blessed Diving,

Dive Flag App
www.diveflagapp.com
info@diveflagapp.com
www.facebook.com/diveflagapp

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Reducing Lionfish Polulations..

Faced with a dramatic reduction of native populations of fish–which support fishing and diving recreational tourism–nearly everyone is working to reduce the lionfish populations. From spearfishing to hook and lining, any method to get them out of the water is seen as a step in the right direction. Citizen organizations like LionFishHunters and The Lionfish PSA have sprung up to educate the public and direct us toward steps necessary to control this opportunistic species.

Especially in the Florida Keys, locals are trying hard to put lionfish on the menu in seafood restaurants, hoping we can eat them into submission. Lionfish is reported to have an excellent taste and is often compared to hogfish or snapper. It’s not dangerous to eat because the poison is only contained in the spines. The meat is safe to eat.

Want to know how to clean and cook a lionfish? Here’s a great 4 minute video to show you how:

For a very well produced video by CNN on the lionfish problem, check out the 7 minute video below:

Below are some additional links to information about the Florida lionfish “invasion.”

Reef.org – Report a lionfish sighting and learn more about the whole lionfish thing, including links to some restaurants that have lionfish on the menu.

Mote Tropical Research Lab lionfish info. An excellent web site with a lot of information and links to other resources.

Content courtesy of David McRee..Beachhunter.net

http://www.blogthebeach.com/2012/nature/fish/lionfish-in-florida-problems-and-solutions

Related posts:

  1. Indo-Pacific Lionfish Threaten Florida
  2. Product Review: First Aid Kit for Marine Animal Stings: Jellyfish, Stingrays, Urchins, Fire Coral
  3. Dolphin Stranding with Happy Ending

Anatomical facts about jellyfish…

The Jellyfish body consists of over 95% water; most of their umbrella mass is a gelatinous material—the jelly—called mesoglea which is surrounded by two layers of protective skin.  The top layer is called the epidermis, and the inner layer is referred to as gastrodermis, which lines the gut.  Jellyfish do not have specialized digestive, osmoregulatory, central nervous, respiratory or circulatory systems.

Jellyfish have no brain or central nervous system, but employ a loose network of nerves, located in the epidermis, which is called a “nerve net”.  Jellyfish have limited control over movement, but can use their hydrostatic skeleton to navigate through contraction-pulsations of the bell-like body; some species actively swim most of the time, while others are mostly passive.

Although counter to the “brainless jellyfish” hypothesis is that some species explicitly adapt to tidal flux to control their location. In Roscoe Bay. B.C., jellyfish ride the current at ebb tide until they hit a gravel bar, and then descend below the current. They remain in still waters waiting for the tide to rise, ascending and allowing it to sweep them back into the bay. They monitor salinity to avoid fresh water from mountain snow melt, again by diving until they find enough salt.

Some jellyfish also have ocelli: light-sensitive organs that do not form images but which can detect light, and are used to determine up from down, responding to sunlight shining on the water’s surface. These are generally pigment spot ocelli, which have some cells (not all) pigmented.

Certain species of jellyfish, such as the Box jellyfish, have been revealed to be more advanced than their counterparts. The Box jellyfish has 24 eyes, two of which are capable of seeing color, and four parallel brains that act in competition, supposedly making it one of the only creatures to have a 360 degree view of its environment.  It is suggested that the two eyes that contain cornea and retina are attached to a central nervous system which enables the four brains to process images. It is unknown how this works, as this animal has a unique central nervous system.

Information and  photo courtesy wikipedia..

Heart can survive deadly box jellyfish

Friday, November 23, 2012 » Big Pond News (www.bigpondnews.com)

Human hearts can survive a potentially lethal box jellyfish sting, new research suggests.

Findings from James Cook University could change the way people are treated for the stings, which can kill a person in five minutes.

Researcher Stephanie Chaousis found that although the venom kills 70 per cent of human heart cells, which can be fatal, the cells fully recover after about four hours.

‘Previously it wasn’t known what part of the venom was fatal so I was able to isolate this part,’ Ms Chaousis, who has a bachelor of zoology, told AAP.

‘Typically people who have been stung are given CPR for about 20 minutes.

‘Now that we know there can be full cell recovery it could mean that if CPR is given until a person is put on a heart/lung machine this could potentially save lives.”

Queensland Tropical Health Alliance Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, who supervised the study, says the research could also be beneficial in heart transplant surgery as a heart needs to be temporarily stopped during the process.

‘Knowing that the component of the venom can cause a temporary heart standstill may lead to novel drug discovery in human heart transplants,’ he said.

Pharmaceutical companies have already shown interest in the research.

Box jellyfish use a dual-action venom that enables them to quickly stun and then kill their usual food source, such as shrimp and fish.

There have been 64 deaths in Australia attributed to box jellyfish stings in the past 130 years.