It’s estimated that a whopping 500,000 jellyfish stings are suffered every summer around the Bay. Although stings from our local jellies are not usually dangerous, they can be painful and irritating, and are definitely something to be avoided.
Common symptoms include pain, redness, burning, swelling, and even bleeding. If you or someone you’re with is the unfortunate victim of a jellyfish sting, don’t rub it or rinse with fresh water. Those treatments may just make things worse. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let your friend pee on it, no matter how much he claims it will relieve the pain. That’s just plain gross. Instead, apply a vinegar rinse or baking soda paste, and carefully remove any tentacles with tweezers. Then apply a cold compress and perhaps take a pain reliever. The effectiveness of kitchen remedies, such as lemon juice and meat tenderizer, is suspect. And by all means avoid crazy urban legend remedies such as gasoline or other solvents, which are both dangerous and highly discouraged.
The best defense is a good offense, so be proactive about keeping tentacles away from skin. For river-lounging purposes try a protective net, such as the Nettle Net Boat Pool, to create a jelly-free zone alongside your anchored vessel or dock. The Nettle Net provides a jellyfish free swim area right off your boat or pier. The float ring allows the pool to stay above the water and the weighted line in the pool netting allows the interior of the pool to sink to a depth of eight feet. The fine gauge mesh allows water to enter the pool but keeps jellyfish below and outside the pool. Pool sizes range from eight to 20 feet. For more info click to nojellyfish.com.
For distance swimming, protective clothing, such as a wetsuit or the jelly-specific Stinger Suit, will provide an effective barrier. Several creams and lotions that claim to prevent stings are also on the market.
Three types of jellyfish can be found in the Bay: lion’s main jellyfish, common jellyfish (also called moon jellies), and sea nettles. Lion’s main jellies are orange-brown in color and like cold water. They visit the Bay during the winter. Right now it’s the moon jellies and sea nettles that we need to be concerned about. Moon jellyfish have a transparent body and an umbrella shaped bell, while sea nettles have a smooth bell that is milky-white. From May through October these slippery, wiggly, gelatinous creatures are common in the lower Bay, but they travel as far north as Annapolis, and sometimes beyond.