Locals are being cautioned after huge numbers of pink-coloured jellyfish have made their way into the shallower waters and harbours in Gordon’s Bay and the larger False Bay area.
These cute and harmless-looking ocean creatures can cause painful stings.
Professor Mark Gibbons from the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the University of the Western Cape, shed some light on exactly what species of jellyfish is populating our local waters.
“The species is Pelagia noctiluca, aka mauve stinger. It gives off light when disturbed, visible at night. Its sting can be painful. The species is holopelagic – meaning that unlike most jellies, there is no stage that lives as a polyp on the seabed. The species spends its entire life floating in the sea. The pink/purple crescent-shaped things that can be seen through the transparent bell are gonads. Animals are either male or female,” says Professor Gibbons.
The “mauve stingers” have been forming in harbours and even affecting swimming activities along False Bay.
Open water swimmer Piet Badenhorst says his latest swim session was recently interrupted by hordes of jellyfish.
“We have a route of 2km from the beach in G [Gordon’s] Bay to the Old Harbour wall and back. Three of us set out on Friday afternoon for anther swim session – we are training for a big event the Walker Bay Extreme Sunday coming. So we have a benchmark reef about 500m out, I saw my one swimmer stopped after I also felt a few strings crossing my face and feet… obviously open as the wetsuit can cover only so much. As I diverted more towards open sea, I looked just beneath the surface and saw these clusters of jellyfish. We stopped just in time and swam back but on the way also got badly stung,” says Badenhorst.
Locals have been cautioned not to swim where there are large numbers of jellyfish.
Professor Gibbons offered advice on effectively treating jellyfish stings:
“If they see lots in the water stay out. One or two may not be a problem but as different people react differently to bee stings, so it is for jellies. If they do get stung, the trick is to rinse the site with vinegar, scrape tentacles off with a credit card and then pour hot hot hot water on the sting to try and denature the toxin. Pee is useless.”