Okay, this blog usually concentrates on things in Hawaii that we find appealing and want to share with you to enhance your vacation.
What follows, however, is a discussion of the dreaded box jellyfish you may encounter, depending on which island you’re on, which side of the island you’re on, and the time of the lunar month.
The sting of box jellyfish that visit Hawaii’s waters is very painful and can even cause anaphylactic shock in some people. The things regularly swarm to Hawaii’s Leeward shores nine or ten days after the full moon.
Even more of a villain is the Portuguese man of war whose body consists of a gas-filled (mostly nitrogen), bladder-like float, a translucent structure tinted pink, blue, or violet that may be three to 12 inches long and may extend as far as six inches above the water. Under the float are clusters of polyps, from which hang long tentacles … really long tentacles. Their stings hurt a whole lot compared to those of the box jellyfish.
Signs will be posted if either box jellyfish or man of wars are in the neighborhood where you plan to swim. It’s a good idea to stay out of the water when they are posted. Man of wars can be detected well before they reach shore, and the arrival of the box jellyfish is completely predictable, so the postings are always timely.
If you should get stung, painful though it may be, don’t get excited. Here’s what to do:
- Pick off any visible tentacles with a glove on your hand. It’s unlikely that you’ll have a glove handy, so use a stick, or anything else that’s handy, being careful to avoid further injury.
- Rinse the stung area liberally with either sea water or fresh water to remove any tentacles that may be stuck to the skin. This can be from a spray bottle or in a beach shower. Do not apply vinegar. That used to be a popular remedy, but studies show that vinegar in these stings sometimes makes the sting worse.
- Put some ice on it to control the pain.
- If eyes are affected, irrigate them with lots of room-temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes. If vision blurs, or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or are light-sensitive after irrigating, see a doctor.
- If you experience persistent itching or skin rash, try a 1% hydrocortisone ointment four times a day, and one or two 25 milligram Benadryl tablets every six hours.
This wasn’t meant to alarm you or to make you wary of those creatures every time you enter the water, but they are occasional nuisances you should know about.