Rough weather brings new invaders into Cayman’s North Sound waters. Those at the Department of Environment (DOE) said the Sea Wasp jellyfish is one of the most feared sea creatures. Earlier this week, those feared jellyfish left three people hospitalized after being stung. DoE’s Research and Assessment Deputy Director Tim Austin said while the jellyfish may be between 2 to 3 inches in size are they not to be taken lightly.
“They can deliver a really nasty sting, and I would say it’s probably up there, top of the scale for the worse kind of stings you can receive in the water. They are probably the most toxic creatures we have around in terms of jellyfish and most marine creatures,” said Mr. Austin.
While the Sea Wasps are nearly transparent Mr. Austin said swimmers should exercise caution when in the water. “There are ways to avoid them, you know it’s difficult to see them, but obviously wearing a wetsuit, wearing a shirt or anything that protects the skin initially is going to help a lot. However, if you get stung the old traditions of putting vinegar on it, also putting hot water on it relieves the pain,” said Mr. Austin.
While Monday’s (29 May) jellyfish incident happened in the day, Mr. Austin said those operating at night should also be wary. “In the evenings and at night they rise to the surface because they’re active feeders. These jellyfish can swim quite fast and they’re hunting fish as well, and they come to the surface. They’re also attracted to lights, people doing night diving or boats that have lights around them, tends to attract jellyfish and that can cause aggregations of them,” said Mr. Austin.
He added that the recent full moon on the 18 May might have contributed to them appearing in Cayman’s waters. “So a couple of days after the full moon, after two weeks they do form a reproduction aggregation, so you’ll find a whole group of them together but typically this takes place out in the open ocean,” said Mr. Austin.
Mr. Austin said the Sea Wasps are not common in Cayman, but all beachgoers should still be vigilant.