Nelson residents are sounding the alarm after large numbers of bluebottle jellyfish have been spotted at local beaches.
When Sierra Clement went to Tāhunanui Beach last week to have a walk with her sister, she got a nasty surprise.
“The water was lovely and warm, so we walked along a few steps in the water. My sister stood on something and she got a fright and flicked what she stood on with her foot.”
Then it landed on Sierra’s foot. That was when she noticed it was a “huge bluebottle”.
“I didn’t think it would sting as much as it did.”
Sierra looked up and noticed there were a large number at the water’s edge and on the shoreline. She rinsed the sting in sea water and then soaked it in hot water when she got home, which helped.
However, she hopes people will keep an eye out to save themselves an unneeded sting.
“I feel it’s important to warn people.”
There have also been reports of the jellyfish at Rabbit Island.
Niwa says jellyfish blooms are likely to be a common sight this summer with rising ocean temperatures one of the main causes of substantial population growths.
Niwa marine biologist Diana Macpherson says jellyfish blooms occur when water temperatures rise, which causes an increase in the amount of food available for jellyfish to eat.
“Jellyfish numbers increase as a result, then prevailing winds and currents can gather them up into dense groups and strand them on beaches,” she says.
Her advice in the event of being stung by a jellyfish is to flush the area with seawater to remove the stinging cells, carefully pluck off any tentacles that might be stuck on, then apply heat to relieve the pain and deactivate the venom.
Using urine to relieve a sting is a popular misconception – there is no way of telling its pH and chemical make-up so it could actually make the pain worse.
Most stings in New Zealand waters are not serious but jellyfish should be avoided when possible.