Jellyfish in the Caribbean?

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#21
Georgia
337 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
I hadn't really thought about jellyfish in my planning until now. I will have to look at some remedies. I am allergic to wasp stings but never been stung by a jelly.

My son, however, got stung by 7 or 8 Portugese man o wars in Panama City Beach FL when he was 6 or 7 and he suffered no lasting side effects. Did itch for several hours though.
#22
"Wettern WA" not a typo
590 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by LMPego
I see that a lot of people ask about sharks, but I'm terrified of jellyfish (get bit just once...)

Are there jellyfish in the Caribbean? Has anyone ever heard of someone getting stung on a snorkel excursion?

Just back from Dream trip to Western Caribbean. One in our group had a horrible reaction to jellyfish sting. I don't know which beach stop had jellyfish.

In any event - the venom caused her blood to form clots in her arm which became quite swollen and turned purple. On board, her arm was put in a sling. Once home, she had husband drive her to hospital - "do not pass go - do not go home first". She spent several days there. She is home now, but off work for a while - (she is a nurse).

So - yes - the jellies are out there. While generally not as dangerous as those of Northern Australia fame, they can be variously dangerous depending upon YOUR sensitivity.
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#23
Upstate NY
2,288 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by Fungusgnat
Just back from Dream trip to Western Caribbean. One in our group had a horrible reaction to jellyfish sting. I don't know which beach stop had jellyfish.
They all had jellyfish. The person in your group was just unfortunate enough to be stung at one of the stops. I hope they're ok. But the ocean doesn't have natural gates and just as squirrels sometimes attack people in parks, jellyfish do occasionally sting. But they're not evil, it's just a natural defensive reaction. They don't come after you. There is some creams you can apply which provide some protection (you can goggle to find them) but getting a "thin skin" one-piece dive suit will provide the most protection (they're lycra based and extremely comfortable in the water).

Randall
#24
"Wettern WA" not a typo
590 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by scubaran
They all had jellyfish. The person in your group was just unfortunate enough to be stung at one of the stops. I hope they're ok. But the ocean doesn't have natural gates and just as squirrels sometimes attack people in parks, jellyfish do occasionally sting. But they're not evil, it's just a natural defensive reaction. They don't come after you. There is some creams you can apply which provide some protection (you can goggle to find them) but getting a "thin skin" one-piece dive suit will provide the most protection (they're lycra based and extremely comfortable in the water).

Randall

Thanks, Randall. While you are singing to the choir here (marine bio instructor and former scuba diver) the OP should benefit. I was only trying to provide some info about what was happening recently. In class we have even watched the nematocysts discharge under the microscope - amazing stuff, that.
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2004 Norwegian Star Mexican Riviera
2010 Carnival Dream Western Caribbean

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#25
Las Vegas
1,031 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I LOVE Cozumel and have seen walls of jellyfish when I snorkeled there in November. They did not have tentacles and I was told this type does not sting people. You could see the 4 distinct parts of it and each part had a faint blue ring inside. Very cool to look at and they come and go with the currents.
#26
13 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
I developed a rash the day after we arrived home. Thought it might be
shingles. Although it was just on my arms. Dr. said it was some form
of sea mites or sea lice or something. I do remember feeling a slight
stinging in the water but didn't think anything of it. I guess that's why
all three of the crew/instructors wore wet suits!
#27
Armada MI
890 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Hi everyone, I am the person whom Vicki mentioned with the allergic reaction to a jellyfish sting. A group of us were on a shore excursion while sailing on the Carnival Dream Feb. 23rd. We booked an excursion to Bananrama resort on Roatan privately, not thru Carnival. We later learned that beach excursions to Roatan booked thru the ship we cancelled due to the jellyfish, but we were not notified as we went on our own. Lesson learned- book thru the ship! A group of us were snorkeling from shore when we saw a few small, at most half dollar sized clear jellyfish. We swam away and enjoyed the reef and wonderful fish. We began to see more jellyfish and were headed in when all in our group were stung. It was not much more than a mosquito bite, and no pain or itching afterwards. I did have a line of four red dots below my wrist. The next morning my hand was a little swollen, but we went to our all day trip to the ruins in Belize. By evening, the swelling was worse, so I went to the ship's infirmary. I was given benadryl and told to ice and elevate the arm, as it looks like an allergy. As I am a RN, the advise given was appropriate. By morning the swelling was farther up the arm, so I went to see the ship's doctor. He also diagnosed an allergy and gave me a steroid shot and pills. Again, appropriate treatment. Each day for the rest of the cruise my arm slowly got bigger and redder. At the end of the cruise we drove home to Michigan, a two day trip. My arm was worse, so I went straight to the ER. Considering it was six days after the sting, I was concerned about some type of infection. I was admitted for four days when it was found that I had extensive blood clots between my wrist and shoulder. The doctors said I had some weird allergy/reaction to the venom of the jellyfish where my blood slowly was clotting. Now, three weeks later my is almost back to normal but I am not allowed to go back to work yet. Will I go snorkeling again? Probably, but I will have my new epipen, make sure no one has seen jellyfish, and maybe have some type of a thin wetsuit. I know what happened to me was extreme, but you never know. I do have allergies to a lot of medications, but not to insects or bees.
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#28
Upstate NY
2,288 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by leaderdogmom
Hi everyone, I am the person whom Vicki mentioned with the allergic reaction to a jellyfish sting. A group of us were on a shore excursion while sailing on the Carnival Dream Feb. 23rd. We booked an excursion to Bananrama resort on Roatan privately, not thru Carnival. We later learned that beach excursions to Roatan booked thru the ship we cancelled due to the jellyfish, but we were not notified as we went on our own. Lesson learned- book thru the ship! A group of us were snorkeling from shore when we saw a few small, at most half dollar sized clear jellyfish. We swam away and enjoyed the reef and wonderful fish. We began to see more jellyfish and were headed in when all in our group were stung. It was not much more than a mosquito bite, and no pain or itching afterwards. I did have a line of four red dots below my wrist. The next morning my hand was a little swollen, but we went to our all day trip to the ruins in Belize. By evening, the swelling was worse, so I went to the ship's infirmary. I was given benadryl and told to ice and elevate the arm, as it looks like an allergy. As I am a RN, the advise given was appropriate. By morning the swelling was farther up the arm, so I went to see the ship's doctor. He also diagnosed an allergy and gave me a steroid shot and pills. Again, appropriate treatment. Each day for the rest of the cruise my arm slowly got bigger and redder. At the end of the cruise we drove home to Michigan, a two day trip. My arm was worse, so I went straight to the ER. Considering it was six days after the sting, I was concerned about some type of infection. I was admitted for four days when it was found that I had extensive blood clots between my wrist and shoulder. The doctors said I had some weird allergy/reaction to the venom of the jellyfish where my blood slowly was clotting. Now, three weeks later my is almost back to normal but I am not allowed to go back to work yet. Will I go snorkeling again? Probably, but I will have my new epipen, make sure no one has seen jellyfish, and maybe have some type of a thin wetsuit. I know what happened to me was extreme, but you never know. I do have allergies to a lot of medications, but not to insects or bees.
Sorry to hear of your health problems you encountered. Sounds like you ran into a school of thimble jellies. I've been stung by them before and it wasn't pleasant but nothing to the extent that you experienced. It sounds like you do have an unusual allergy. Besides getting a "thin skin" wetsuit, I know there are lotions available on the internet that supposedly create a thin film on your skin to minimize jelly, sea lice bites. In no way was I, or anyone else making light of your situation. But again you had a very unusual reaction. I've been diving in the Caribbean for over a decade and yours is the most extreme case I've heard of. I guess it just reflects the fact that each of us are unique with our own strengths and weaknesses. Good luck with your recovery and hope you never experience this problem in the future.

Randall
#29
Armada MI
890 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by scubaran
Sorry to hear of your health problems you encountered. Sounds like you ran into a school of thimble jellies. I've been stung by them before and it wasn't pleasant but nothing to the extent that you experienced. It sounds like you do have an unusual allergy. Besides getting a "thin skin" wetsuit, I know there are lotions available on the internet that supposedly create a thin film on your skin to minimize jelly, sea lice bites. In no way was I, or anyone else making light of your situation. But again you had a very unusual reaction. I've been diving in the Caribbean for over a decade and yours is the most extreme case I've heard of. I guess it just reflects the fact that each of us are unique with our own strengths and weaknesses. Good luck with your recovery and hope you never experience this problem in the future.

Randall
Randall, I didn't think anyone was making light of my experience. I think the lesson learned is if you see any jellyfish, avoid them because you never know what can happen. I was lucky in that I did not have an anaphalactic reaction. I think I will look into a thin skin type wetsuit before my next snorkeling trip as I would hate to never go back into the water ever again. And who knows, I may never see another jellyfish.
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#30
Tulsa, OK
20 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Thanks for sharing your story. I am very happy you recovered from your ordeal.

It never occurred to me to think about Jellies during a snorkeling excursion but it makes sense to listen to any warnings posted. I'd love to see 'harmless' jellies floating lazily about but I think I'll prefer to do that from a nice, safe distance.
#31
Maryland
94 Posts
Joined May 2007
Last summer I was stung by Portuguese man of war (not technically a jellyfish but a close relative) in Bermuda. It felt like a very high voltage discharge and as venom went up my legs (both legs were affected) to the abdomen I felt quite sick for about 4-5 hours. What really helped was Benadryl (any generic diphenhydramine-based antihistamine/anti-allergy medicine will do).
Previously I had multiple encounters with various species of jellyfish in Azov sea (next to Black sea North-East of Mediterranean) but the stings were barely noticeable (just itchy afterwards).
#32
San Mateo, FL, USA
2,857 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Originally posted by leaderdogmom
Hi everyone, I am the person whom Vicki mentioned with the allergic reaction to a jellyfish sting. .... The doctors said I had some weird allergy/reaction to the venom of the jellyfish where my blood slowly was clotting. Now, three weeks later my is almost back to normal but I am not allowed to go back to work yet. Will I go snorkeling again? Probably, but I will have my new epipen, make sure no one has seen jellyfish, and maybe have some type of a thin wetsuit. I know what happened to me was extreme, but you never know. I do have allergies to a lot of medications, but not to insects or bees.
Lori-

You, unfortunately, are the special and unlucky one that had a major reaction to the sting. I'm so glad you are finally getting back to normal!

Please, don't be afraid of the water, or to book outside of the ship. I do book both, but try to go outside when possible with docking times.

From my avatar, you can see exactly how much skin we expose underwater... For me, just the little bits that my hood does not cover. Keith doesn't wear a hood yet, but he will probably start next trip after the last sunburn on the 'solar panel' (top of his head). Of course, we have bare hands when gloves are not allowed, but I usually then pull the sleeves of my diveskin down over my hands.

I would definitely advise both a lycra skin and a lycra hood. Basically, a bathing suit for the entire body.

Hope you're back to full speed soon!

Wendy
#33
Tallahassee, FL
4,336 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We went snorkeling in Belize last week off of Goff's Cay and there were a lot of jellyfishes.

There was a whole school (is it called a school with jellyfish?) and the guide made us swim around them to keep from getting stung.

After we were done with our snorkeling tour, we did some more snorkeling around the beach and saw a couple up there.
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#34
Virginia
6 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Just got back from Ochos Rios Jamaica in St. Anne's Bay and got a whopping lot of stings from jellies I never saw. I still have the marks. The tentacles wrapped around my ankle, my thigh, and left blisters and a searing pain. The nurse at the beach applied vinegar and cream. My husband always carries Benadryl tablets but that takes time to get into your blood stream. I was in tears, with a slight paralysis in the leg growing up from the ankle. It passed but man that hurt.

Do NOT use ammonia or urine on a jelly sting. It enhances the venom's rush into the bloodstream. Vinegar will neutralize the unfired stingers. I applied a lidocaine cream and an antihistamine cream which mildly helped. Keeping the affected area out of the air, covered helped. I was miserable all night. So sorry to hear about the allergic reaction and the blood clotting. It scares me.
#35
Armada MI
890 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
wow, glad to hear you are ok. I don't think those little jellyfish get the respect they deserve! everyone worries about the big ones. it must be a bad year for them, I've talked to many people who have been snorkeling and diving in the caribbean for years and have never seen any jellyfish. good thing there was a nurse there on the beach who was able to treat you and that you weren't allergic!


Originally posted by StargateBabe
Just got back from Ochos Rios Jamaica in St. Anne's Bay and got a whopping lot of stings from jellies I never saw. I still have the marks. The tentacles wrapped around my ankle, my thigh, and left blisters and a searing pain. The nurse at the beach applied vinegar and cream. My husband always carries Benadryl tablets but that takes time to get into your blood stream. I was in tears, with a slight paralysis in the leg growing up from the ankle. It passed but man that hurt.

Do NOT use ammonia or urine on a jelly sting. It enhances the venom's rush into the bloodstream. Vinegar will neutralize the unfired stingers. I applied a lidocaine cream and an antihistamine cream which mildly helped. Keeping the affected area out of the air, covered helped. I was miserable all night. So sorry to hear about the allergic reaction and the blood clotting. It scares me.
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#36
US
6 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
I was stung in the waters of BC while scuba diving. I had a wet suit on and the jelly fish lodged itself between my mask and respirator and I did not know it was stinging until I exit the water. I guess my face was very cold so I did not feel it. I think it was a small man-o-war jelly fish. I had a scabby scar for about three weeks.

Jordan
#37
Oslo, Norway
384 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by 10splyr
And to say that jellyfish sting is nothing to worry about is not exactly true. If one is allergic to bee/wasp/etc. stings, then you may have a very bad reaction to the jellyfish sting - take it from someone who knows firsthand . I carry an epi pen with me at all times. Better safe than sorry!
I know I'm replying to a really old posting, but I found this thread after researching box jellyfishes (due to a recent death from one in the news).

According to this, using an epi-pen when stung by a box jellyfish might be what kills you!
http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.c...-epi-pens.html

Safe swimming, hope neither of us ever will meet one of these creatures :-)
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#38
HHI, S.C. formerly Miami
1,003 Posts
Joined Dec 2013
Granted this thread is almost 10 years old but it is still relevant. I dive in the Florida Keys several times a month. From Sept thru Feb, the moon jellies are abundant. They float from the surface down to about 15 feet in swarms.
They have short tentacles but they are tentacles and do sting. We always carry vinegar and meat tenderizer for any stings but a wetsuit and avoidance are the best methods. Portuguese Man O Wars are more prevalent during the winter months and have very long tentacles - avoid them at all cost. I once saw a box jelly near Key Largo but have never seen one since (that was some 15 years ago). Don't be afraid of jelly fish - they have amazing medical cure qualities - just don't touch them or get near them. Be aware of what's below, behind and above you while in the water especially if you are snorkeling.
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#39
NE Ohio
34 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
Originally posted by Tristan
My boyfriend was stung by a Portugese Man O War in the Bahamas, and he said it was one of the most painful experiences of his life.

I am terrified of jellyfish!!

Me too!! Worst pain in my life and I gave birth 6 times without medication! I'm learning to scuba and plan on always wearing a full wetsuit.
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#40
Colorado
1 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I know this is an old thread, but my husband saw many jellyfish with a blue color off of the aft end of our ship while docked in Nassau. He called a crew member over to check it out and they both were absolutely certain they were jellyfish. Unfortunately he did not think to use the phone camera!

From what I understand, the best way to take the sting out is to pour your urine on the sting area. Urine can be more acidic than the toxin and it does take the sting out. I know, GROSS! But this is something they do in Australia. Just a thought!