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Do All Jellyfish Sting? Learn About All The Species

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The tentacles of a jellyfish contain stinging cells called nematocysts which release the poisonous substance helping the jellyfish protect itself.

These soft, bell-shaped bodied creatures of the water with lengthy tentacles (called jellyfish) are found in all the oceans of the world. Jellyfish pose a threat and can also sting prey as it helps in easily capturing it.

The marine animals called jellyfish are capable of inflicting painful stings. This sting can also be life-threatening sometimes. These marine animals also include anemones and fire coral. The stings usually occur when you come in contact with jellyfish tentacles. These tentacles consist of millions of nematocysts full of venom and with a small stinger. Even the tentacles that are broken off from the body might retain the venom for weeks or months at a time when washed up from the ocean or on the beach. Jellyfish won't attack humans without a reaction. Jellyfish sting their prey which is usually small marine animals. However, some jellyfish species can be harmful to humans and might cause serious health implications. Stings in people are usually seen while diving and swimming when the person comes in contact with the stinging cells, nematocysts. How dangerous the sting is totally depends on the species of the jellyfish, the stinger penetration, and the victim's sensitivity to stinging. Most jellyfish that hurt humans are found in warm and tropical warm waters. The species from the coast of the southeast do not inflict much pain and only cause mild symptoms.

All species of jellyfish come in different sizes, colors, and shapes. The appearance of a jellyfish is usually glassy or semi-transparent and is shaped like a bell. The tentacles are really long in some jellyfish as they reach more than 100 ft (30 m) in length. Usually, jellyfish are about one foot (0.3 m) in length. Some species can go up to six feet (1.82 m). You will notice these creatures in every ocean in the world living in shallow coastal waters.

Jellyfish stings are really important to be looked at by medical experts as, although some are mild, many are dangerous and cause serious damage. Some can even be life-threatening, so it is important to seek advice as soon as possible. You will find information on the Portuguese Man-of-War discussions in most data, but although it resembles a jellyfish, it is not a true jellyfish. They live in complex colonies with a float, reproductive medusae, and feeding polyps. The sting of this animal (a purple or blue gas-filled bubble) is painful and full of venom. It can cause a lot of discomfort for the victim.

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Species Of Jellyfish That Sting

There are many jellyfish species that can create serious reactions on your skin and can be dangerous if stingers stay inside the skin.

Here are a few species of jellyfish that are harmful to humans:

A box jellyfish is transparent and can cause severe pain. This jellyfish can also cause life-threatening reactions. However, this is rare. The most dangerous box jellyfish species is seen in the warmer regions of Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

A sea nettle is commonly seen in both warm and cold water. They are found along the northeast coast in the United States. The appearance of this jellyfish is brown or red with a saucer-shaped body. They are around 12 in (30.48 cm) in diameter. Four oral arms and long tentacles hang from the bell. They also create a severe reaction and if stung, you should seek medical advice.

Lion's mane jellyfish stings create mild symptoms and stings. They are the largest jellyfish found in the water with a diameter of around 6 ft 7 in (2 m). This jellyfish is also known as a winter jellyfish. It is mostly seen during the colder months of the year. The bell is shaped like a saucer with reddish-brown oral arms. The jellyfish also has eight clusters of tentacles. They are not very potent stingers with symptoms similar to a moon jellyfish sting. However, the intensity is more in the lion's mane jellyfish than the moon jellyfish.

The sea wasp is also known as a box jelly and is considered to be full of venom which can create dangerous reactions to the skin and body. It is cube-shaped and its potent stings can cause severe dermatitis and one will need a doctor as soon as possible. They are seen mostly in Australia, the Philippines, the central Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. It has very long tentacles hanging from each corner of its body.

Apart from these species, there are some jellyfish stings that are totally harmless to humans. Some of them are crystal jelly or many-ribbed jelly, sea gooseberries, Aurelia aurita or moon jelly, blue button or Porpita porpita, and Rhopilema Verrilli or mushroom cap jellyfish. There are no jellyfish that don't sting at all.

What happens when a jellyfish stings you?

When you come in contact with the nematocysts of a jellyfish while swimming or walking on the beaches, it is called a sting.

It might start with small stings or pain, and once the stingers set in, the skin or site will show. Jellyfish do not usually sting humans. They occur in the sea, away from humans, and should not cause any health issues in humans. However, rare occurrences of washed-up jellyfish and jellyfish stingers appear to sting humans after all. It is also possible that a dead jellyfish on the beach stings you. The stings will cause red marks, tingling, itching, and numb sensations. Jellyfish stings appear to cause more harm in children and old people.

The venom of jellyfish is not that potent for all species. If you are stung by a jellyfish, it will cause some discomfort in most cases and you will be OK if you rinse it off with vinegar. However, some jellyfish stings can be life-threatening. It is very common that people to get stung by jellyfishes nowadays as jellyfishes are common sea creatures found swimming in most oceans of the world. It is important to treat the sting as soon as possible even though it might not be painful. Swimming in the open seas might get you stung by these creatures, so it is important to be careful all the time.

Symptoms Of A Jellyfish Sting

There are various symptoms of a jellyfish sting.

Here are some common basic symptoms of jellyfish stings: burning sensation and stinging pain, brown, red, or purple tracks on the skin where the stingers made contact, swelling, itching, and of course, a lot of pain.

When a poisonous jellyfish stings someone, a lot of other symptoms might occur as they affect many different body systems. The added symptoms can be nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, muscle spasms and pain, fainting, drowsiness, weakness, breathing problem, heart issues, chest pain, skin blistering, difficulty in swallowing, and further worsening of rashes.

If you have any of these symptoms, rinse the stingers immediately and if severe symptoms arise, see a doctor immediately.

Jellyfish stings can really cause a lot of symptoms, however, most of them are not that harmful.

How do you treat a jellyfish sting? 

Although jellyfish stings can be life-threatening sometimes, many a time you won't need to go to a doctor. Symptoms like vomiting and pain will go away in a few hours.

There are a few ways to treat a jellyfish sting. Pouring saltwater on the site of the rash after a sting on the beach will help in reducing the pain and itching. Do not use freshwater though. Additionally, you can also apply vinegar or alcohol to reduce the burning sensation. Vinegar will also help reduce the release of the toxin. So, it is advised to take a vinegar bottle while going to the beach. Rinse the site if you are stung. Apply shaving cream or a mix of seawater from the beach and baking soda. You can also use tweezers to remove the tentacles from the skin. After that, you can use an ice pack or hot water to reduce the swelling.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Do all jellyfish sting?', then why not take a look at 'Do bats eat mosquitoes?' or 'Do bats have tails'.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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