Beware of a Big Sting from Jellyfish in South Padre Island, Texas
Many of us are putting the finishing touches on our summer vacation adventure. One of those adventures could be to the beach of South Padre Island, Texas, a popular destination for Texans and non-Texans alike. Whether you enjoy bouncing around in the waves or digging up seashells on the beach, there is a bit of caution and awareness that needs to be taken. Its being reported that Blue Button jellyfish and Portuguese Man of War are washing up on shore. These jellyfish can cause a painful sting that, if bad enough, could result in a trip to the hospital.
My First Experience with a Jellyfish
In 2010, I was at Surfside Beach, about 40 miles south of Galveston. I was enjoying some time in the water bouncing in the waves. Suddenly, I felt a something on my arm that almost felt like a bee sting. I didn't think much of it until that stinging feeling got a little worse. I then noticed a red streak about an inch long on the underside of my bicep. Apparently, I had been stung by a jellyfish. This was the first time I encountered the sting those creatures of the sea can produce.
South Padre Island Warning
Authorities in South Padre Island have issued a warning to be on the lookout for Blue Button jellyfish and Portuguese Man of War that are washing ashore in large numbers. Even if these sea creatures are lying still in the sand, or have died, stepping on their tentacles can result in a painful sting. If the sting is great enough, especially from a Man of War, you may have to go to the hospital. Not exactly what you want to be doing on vacation.
One of my colleagues here at the station was in Galveston over the Spring Break holiday and he said he saw several of these jellyfish on the shore. So really you need to be aware of this anywhere along the Gulf Coast of Texas.
It’s pain. Yeah, pain and irritation because they have these little cells that have tiny darts in them. When they brush against you, the cell has a trigger, and it shoots a little darts. Thousands of them can go into your skin. - Tony Reisinger, Cameron County Marine Extension Agent
What to Do to Avoid or if You are Stung
The best thing to do if you see one of these creatures on the beach is to walk around it. If you are stung, contact beach rescue as they have a liquid that can be applied to alleviate the pain (valleycentral.com). You can also pack the area with wet sand and then wash it off (repeat if needed) to help remove the remains of the jellyfish from your skin. Another solution is use a mixture of unseasoned meat tenderizer and rubbing alcohol and apply that to the area that was stung (cityofportaransas.org).
Another sea creature to watch out for is the Blue Dragon. These are one to two inch sea slugs that pack a big sting as well. They are sweet looking creatures but actually are a predator. They feed on Portuguese Man of War. As the Blue Dragon eats the Man of War, it "stores" the Man of War's stinging cells for it's own use.
Enjoy Your Vacation but Be Aware
In no way is this information meant to scare anyone away from our Texas beaches, this is just information you need to be aware of before your next beach trip. The more you are aware of these wonders of the sea, the more enjoyable your vacation adventure will be.