Jellyfish: No eyes, no ears, no brain - but cleverly armed

Every year millions of tourists visit the sea. And with great regularity millions of jellyfish are drawn to the beaches of the North and Baltic Seas and the Mediterranean Sea. This summer, too, the jellyfish is mass driving towards the Balearic Islands. Already many tourists have burnt down on their nettle threads. If you catch it, you should have vinegar or shaving cream.

The light jellyfish

At night, it shines in the sea, during the day it causes painful burns to the bathers - the light jellyfish - Pelagia noctiluca, has developed in the western Mediterranean in recent years to a veritable plague. Marine biologists suggest that a major factor in the jellyfish plague is the warming of the water. The Mediterranean is currently a degree warmer than normal.

Another cause is overfishing, which greatly reduces natural enemies of jellyfish such as tuna or sea turtles. Jellyfish - around 300 species are known - are dangerous predators, and have been around for well over 600 million years.

Thousands of dreaded nettle capsules sit on the tentacles and arms of the medusas, as well as on the edge of the umbrella, sometimes on top. These are thrown like tiny harpoons at the victims and thereby paralyzed - usually these are plankton animals and small fish. Above all, the jellyfish protect themselves effectively from enemies.

The bad thing about it: even torn off tentacle pieces and dead jellyfish are still nuzzling.

Jellyfish in Europe

On the German coasts and in the Mediterranean, the jellyfish is the most common. The jellyfish is up to 30 cm wide and has up to 5 meters long fishing threads, which can burn even in the torn state, the skin when touched - the injury looks like a whip. The blue fire jellyfish is slightly smaller than the red fire jellyfish, but it burns the same way. It can only be found on the shores of the North and Baltic Seas in the summer months.

The jellyfish, on the other hand, has only a weak poison, which, however, can irritate some people on thin areas of skin such as the face.

The compass jellyfish, which can grow to about 30 cm, also causes mild to moderate burns.

The jellyfish living in the Mediterranean has an 8 cm bell, but can form up to 10 meters long, hair-thin tentacles. It causes very painful burns. You can see light jellyfish by their pink color and the warty screen surface. "This jellyfish species can nausea so unpleasant that wounds often do not heal for a long time, but constantly wet and only gradually scarred." says marine zoologist Dr. Robert A. Patzner from the University of Salzburg.

The most dangerous jellyfish

Some jellyfish species are so poisonous that they can even kill a human. This includes the "Portuguese Galley". Their tentacles become up to 5 meters long. It lives in all oceans, but mainly in the tropical Atlantic to the Hebrides, the Caribbean and rarely in the Mediterranean.

The animal is not a "real" jellyfish, but a polyp colony whose individual animals have joined together to form a "state". When in contact with the in Australia also "Bluebottle" mentioned polyps one may not use vinegar - only salt water for the washing up. Then you should go to the doctor as soon as possible.

Among the most dangerous jellyfish ever counts the Australian sea wasp - it belongs to the genus of dice jellyfish. Your poison kills a person in just a few minutes. In Australia, even more people die from venom ("box jellyfish") than snake bites. The screen of the jellyfish is reminiscent of a cube with rounded edges, hence the name. Single or whole bundles of tentacles sit on these four edges. The Seewespe is at home in the Pacific and lives especially near the coast. In addition, it is fast - up to four knots (about 7 to 8 km / h).

From May to October you should therefore swim off Australia's north and northeast coast only with special Lycra suits. Partly there are barriers on the beaches, with which the bathers are to be protected. At the first aid points you get vinegar to treat the wounds: the acid deactivates the cells of the stinging cells - but in any case you have to see a doctor.

First aid

In just a few seconds, contact with jellyfish can cause painful burning and fever, sometimes even shock. The range of symptoms ranges from

  • Pain, itching and hives
  • Nausea and circulatory problems
  • to respiratory paralysis.

Mostly the bathers get caught in the water because jellyfish are hard to see. If you feel the burning pain, you should not panic, at least in Europe, because here are the jellyfish not life threatening. However, you should immediately leave the water and examine the injuries. After contact with the jellyfish, numerous unopened nettle capsules still sit on the skin. Under no circumstances should one rub the skin with the hand.

The Wadden Sea Conservation Station recommends: Even on the beach, if you do not have vinegar with you, it makes sense to first let the skin dry in the air and then rub it with dry sand - but be careful with your hands, because the nettle capsules can also burn the palms, If you have vinegar, substitute lemon, available, you can use a soaked rag to rub the skin gently. An antihistamine ointment, as used in insect bites, cools. For very large burns you should go to the doctor.

The coastal stations of the German Life Rescue Society (DLRG) relies on shaving cream: rub the affected skin with vinegar or shaving cream, then let the foam dry and rub with a blunt object such as a knife back or a plastic children's bucket, so the nettles of to release the skin. In case of severe pain and skin redness, the doctor should be consulted with caution. If you do not have shaving cream, you should visit the DLRG rescue stations where the "home remedy" is available. Reduced ammonia or cooling ointments also help against burns.

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