Durban lifeguards treat hundreds of bluebottle stings

2014-01-06 00:00

DURBAN lifeguards have treated hundreds of bluebottle stings since north-easterly winds started pushing the marine animals towards the city’s beaches three days ago.

Members of the Marine Surf Life Saving Club said they had treated more than 100 stings and Deon Woodley, a member of the club, said that it was quite common for lifeguards to treat up to a 100 stings a day.

“I haven’t been down to the beach today,” he said, “but yesterday it was quite bad.”

A spokesperson for uShaka Marineworld said bluebottles often made their way inshore from their normal home in the Agulhas current when onshore winds — like North Easterlies — were prevalent.

These small marine creatures are often confused with jellyfish, but are distinguished from the latter by a small blue gas float that is attached to the animal.

A bluebottle also has tentacles, which can range up to 10 metres long, and floats on the surface of the sea.

Advice from uShaka is that beach-goers should always heed the warnings of lifeguards to stay out the water.

If, however, someone is stung, lifeguards are trained to deal with the emergency.

“You will know if you have been stung because the pain is acute and immediate. Stings are not usually lethal, but some people can react more badly than others,” the spokesperson said.

Asked how stings were treated, Woodley said the first thing to do was to remove the bluebottle tentacles.

These need to be scraped off the skin with a card or cotton wool, rather than rubbed off, as this can cause the barbs on the tentacles to release more venom.

Once the tentacles have been removed, lifeguards will apply vinegar to the stings and advise the victim to also apply ice to the site of the injury.

They will also monitor the casualty for any allergic reactions.

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