SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 16, 2013

Jellyfish leaving their stinging mark

MANCHESTER — At first, Sarah Oaks did not know what happened when her 10-year-old son, Nate, ran out of the water onto Singing Beach last week in excruciating pain.

It was only a little while later, when the family was at nearby Crosby’s Marketplace, that she realized that Nate had been stung by a jellyfish. The sting, on his face, went from red to purple and was hot to the touch, Oaks said.

“I turned around and looked at him, and it looked like he had jam on his face,” she said.

Nate was panicking, so she poured clean water on it and calmed him down. She phoned a friend who works at Beverly Hospital, who suggested the Oakses go to the emergency room.

“The minute it happened, he was in a lot of pain,” she said. “It was really scary.”

The Oakses were in Manchester vacationing from New York last week when Nate was stung. The family has been spending summers in Manchester for years. Yesterday at Singing Beach, another beachgoer said a jellyfish had brushed up against her arm, and a lifeguard tried to fish it out of the water.

”She just had the jellyfish on her,” lifeguard Patty Blake said. “(It was) already dead.”

In both of those instances, the species could not be identified. But lion’s mane jellyfish were spotted last week on Singing Beach and on Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester; another jellyfish also washed up on Gloucester’s Pavilion Beach.

“The most dangerous thing about them is that their tentacles can get quite long,” Steve Spina, an assistant curator at the New England Aquarium said.

Spina said that while the bell or body of the invertebrate could be 10 feet away, a stinging tentacle could be a lot closer, and they are hard to see. Also, the stingers still harbor live venom after the jellyfish is dead, making even those that have washed up on shore dangerous to beachgoers.

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