Meteorologists “see” a mini summer repeat for these days and already many citizens are doing their first searches for beaches in order to enjoy the sun and the rising temperatures. However, the most “suspicious” of this year have put a criterion for choosing a beach which is none other than… the purple jellyfish.
The fact that purple jellyfish have returned this year to Greek seas much earlier than in 2022 has brought back the “headache” of the previous summer.
Purple jellyfish are considered among the most dangerous jellyfish species in the Mediterranean. Their sting is painful due to the neurotoxin they have, so bathers should be very well informed on what to do in case of a sting.
At present, purple jellyfish have been observed mainly in the Ionian Sea (Paxos and Corfu) and in a few isolated cases on the beaches of Attica and the southern Peloponnese.
Especially in Corfu the problem seems to be more serious compared to other areas, at least for now.
As purple jellyfish in their final stage of development have a lifespan of up to 9 months, this means that this summer some areas of the Ionian Sea will have to deal with purple jellyfish.
After all, as experts report, the disappearance of purple jellyfish in the second year has never been recorded in the literature, so it should not happen this year either. On the contrary, a big difference is observed in the 3rd and 4th year where they disappear, causing them to reappear at least after 5 years or in some cases 10 to 12 years later.
The purple jellyfish map
Areas where purple jellyfish have been recorded are shown on the map below.
Purple jellyfish: estimates for summer 2023
As reported in this year’s first JellyReport, for 2023 the North Aegean is expected to be clean, with some isolated sightings of purple jellyfish, while in areas such as Attica and due to the situation this year last, the appearances of purple jellyfish can sometimes be a bit more intense. For the Cyclades we may have a few isolated sightings, while for Crete – possibly on the western side – we may see a bit more, as well as for the southern Peloponnese. As for the Ionian Sea, estimates indicate that the situation will be at the same levels as in 2022.
Of course, according to the recent JellyReport, it always depends on the weather and sea currents.
The compass jellyfish is back
Like every year during this period, we have to deal with natural epidemics of compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella). These epidemics begin from mid-March and last until mid-May (sometimes until the beginning of June).
They have already started washing up on the beaches. And in the coming weeks, it is estimated that the phenomenon will be more intense on the beaches of Greece.
Symptoms after contact with purple barbel
Nematocysts produce erythema, swelling and burning on human skin, as well as sometimes severe skin-critical, cardio- and neurotoxic effects, which are particularly dangerous in sensitive individuals.
Specifically, the possible symptoms after being bitten by Pelagia noctiluca are:
Burning pain, often severe redness of the skin, and in some cases the appearance of a jellyfish mark on part of the skin
The pressure drop
Shortness of breath
Purple jellyfish sting: what to take to the beach?
The Greek Biodiversity Observatory recommends a first aid kit for the beach. As he notes, it’s good to have the following with us on the beach so we can deal with a jellyfish sting:
A plastic card (eg an old credit card).
A cup (for example a urine collector).
A little baking soda (ratio 1:1 with seawater).
Some cortisone creams such as fucicorte
Wash carefully with sea water, without rubbing the sting area.
If available, apply a mixture of seawater and baking soda (in a 1:1 ratio) for two minutes to stop any further venom secretion from any tentacle cell debris left on the skin.
We use a plastic bank card or similar (not our hands) to remove the baking soda mixture and any residue from our skin
Apply ice to the bite for 5 to 15 minutes. Ice, or even an ice-cold soft drink, should be in a bag or other covering, such as a cloth or a t-shirt.
Check to see if the pain has subsided and, if necessary, reapply ice for another 5-15 minutes.
If pain persists, see a doctor or pharmacist to prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory creams (such as 3-4% lidocaine and hydrocortisone).
MHN wraps the bite well with bandages, DO NOT use vinegar, NOR fresh water, NOR alcohol, NOR ammonia.