Watch out for a ball of jellyfish at sea

At the moment they are avoiding the Catalan coast and the Aude coast. Without a brain, but equipped with long, sometimes stinging tentacles, jellyfish, of which there are more than 3,000 species, can appear on our shores at any time. A question of winds, heat and currents. Both mysterious and repulsive, these molluscs could accompany our summer swims.

Their show is magical, but the instructions are strict. We do not touch them within two meters and only with our eyes. “With the risk of them rubbing against the tentacles and getting burned “, recalls Pascal Romans, director of the Biodiversarium of the Oceanological Observatory in Banyuls-sur-Mer. An allusion to Pelagia noctiluca, “purple in color and with very long tentacles that sting very strongly”. A local mollusk, abundantly integrated into the Mediterranean landscape since time immemorial, it invades the beaches or not depending on the year. “It all depends on the wind regime and the heatwave at sea, we can never predict an invasion early enough”regrets the manager, who knows well the reactions of vacationers to the sight of this gelatinous plankton with a bad reputation.

How to treat a jellyfish sting

Meeting Pelagia is certainly never trivial. “Its filaments are equipped with tiny stinging cells that send thousands of mini-harpoons into the skin of a human perceived as prey.”explains Lucas Leclère, CNRS researcher. “The jellyfish shoots its poisonous arrows that stick and penetrate the dermis”, adds Pascal Romans. Getting rid of them is not so easy. “You must first rinse the infected part with sea water and especially not with fresh water, which would create a salty shock that would allow the cells to burst and the poison to spread.”, continues. thus? “We rub the skin very lightly with sand to pull and remove as much of this gelatin as possible, or we scrape it with a book”, advises Isabelle Estève-Moussion. The rest is easier. We head to the nearest first aid station, where the lifeguards are equipped with soothing creams and will make sure that the person does not develop an allergy. “which can lead to a hospital, but that’s extremely rare.”, reassures the banyulenc specialist. A calm view of the summer of 2024.

“Pelagia has always caused trouble for swimmers, perhaps because even after death she still stings., imagines Pascal Romans taking the opportunity to issue another warning. Other species of jellyfish regularly wash up on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, including Rhizostoma pulmo, which is impressive in its size, reaching a length of 80 cm, or Chrysaora hysoscella. Don’t panic, they are not dangerous.

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