Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Jelly fish whilst diving

There has been some concern of late about jelly fish in and around the waters of Samui and the areas we dive at Koh Tao and Sail Rock.

Over the last few months there has been an increase in small jellyfish being seen as well as box jelly fish. The small jellies, whilst irritating and will provide a mild sting, they are not harmful to us. We just need to be mindful that we are diving in their ocean and by wearing exposure protection and looking all around us whilst we are diving, we should be able to avoid them. If there are too many for comfort, then a simple change of dive site is always an option.

Box Jellyfish however can provide a very painful sting and in some instances/species be fatal to humans and therefore should be avoided. There have been a couple of incidents around Samui where people have been swimming in the ocean at night, unaware of what might be under the water. You will find signs outside most hotels and along beaches now highlighting what to do and what to avoid whilst enjoying the sea as well as what you should do should you experience a sting.

We have been sighting the Box Jellyfish at a variety of dive sites now and at varying depths. Usually on their own, they can be spotted fairly easily with a rectangular shaped body with a transparent almost bluish tinge and long, yellowish tentacles and they move quite quickly as that is how they hunt their prey. Their main predator are turtles as they are immune to the sting, so without turtles around in our waters, we will always have these creatures.

So what should you do to avoid being stung:
- Wear exposure protection whilst diving & snorkeling. If necessary wear a long sleeve tshirt or rash vest under your wet suit and even tights! They may not look sexy but will help if you are worried.
- Be particularly careful when you are entering and exiting the water. As soon as you get in, use your mask to check the water below you
- When diving and swimming at the surface, preferably swim face down rather than on your back so you can see below you
- Continually look around you, to the left, right, up and below not just forward. This is good practice anyway and ensures you always know what is around you
- Ensure there is vinegar and lots of it to hand. Wash the affected area with salt water only and remove any tentacles with a gloved hand or tweezers and then apply vinegar to the area. On the boat we have spray guns loaded with vinegar which ensures the liquid can be applied to the affected area more adequately.

We are including this information in all our dive and snorkel briefings to ensure every customer is aware, just the same as we would for a Trigger fish! but feel free to ask us if you have any questions.

Not all jelly fish are stingers or something to be concerned about. Over the last few days we have had the pleasure of seeing Rhizostome jellyfish at a few dive sites. They have a solid consistency and have no tentacles. These jellies are actually edible and can be found dried and being sold in some parts of the world and butterfly fish and banner fish are a bit partial to them too! They're fantastic to watch and often have small fish swimming inside them. Us humans are also not sensitive to their sting!

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