Box jelly fish bring ‘joy and pain’

| 08/08/2013

(CNS): A number of sightings of box jelly fish in the ocean around Grand Cayman recently have brought both joy and pain for local and visiting water lovers. Being able to capture the rare but much feared sea creature on film while snorkelling at Rum Point was a joy for Russ and Pat Miller, who were visiting Cayman last month, but it was a painful experience for one local dive expert and several other visitors who were stung in East End. Experts say this type of jelly fish, known as a sea wasp, is not a common sight during the day in Cayman but is usually found close to the surface of the ocean at night. The species found here is not as dangerous as the Pacific box jelly fish, which kills more people at sea than any other marine animal, but can still deliver a nasty painful sting.

“It’s probably one of the more ominous creatures we have out there and definitely one to be avoided,” a spokesperson from the Department of Environment (DoE) said. “Typically they are found at the surface after dark and they are attracted to light, which is why night divers get stung by them quite often.”

He explained that usually in the day time they are deeper in the water column, which makes it less likely that divers and snorkellers will encounter them, but not impossible.

That was certainly the case for the Millers, who were just feet away from one of the pesky creatures as they snorkelled at Rum Point on their first trip to Cayman. Russ Miller got both video and stills of the creature, which often not seen until it’s too late.

“It is a very interesting marine animal and it is incredible how it can 'see' and swim, but it is very difficult to see and or photograph. It is almost invisible in the water,” he said. “We had a great time on our first trip to the Cayman Islands,” Miller added, as he directed CNS to the link  where he has posted a collection of images of the jelly fish.

Meanwhile, as the Millers captured the creature on film, over in East End at least three people were stung by them, including veteran diver and owner of Ocean Frontiers, Steve Broadbelt, who said he was stung on the wrist.

“If you get stung, I think it is advisable to seek medical attention as overreaction can often lead to breathing difficulties,” a DoE expert warned, but many people still suggest that vinegar, if not exactly a cure, it is the best suitable solution to wash off the sting and immobilise any of the jellyfish’s nematocysts, or stinging cells, that may still be on the skin."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (10)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was stung by a Box Jellyfish while snorkling at Stingray City sandbar in GC in March 2014. Nasty reaction, severe cramps in lower back, hives, profuse sweating, elevated heart rate (190 BPM) and trouble breathing. had to be treated at the hospital. Contrary what many, including medical professionals in Grand Cayman, belive to be overreaction to the sting, these symptoms are for real and very serious. These little jelly's have some nasty venom that they inject into you. I have spent a lot of time in the water and have been stung by jellyfish before. nothing even close to this, not even from huge Man-O War that got wrapped around my body while surfing. That hurt like hell, but no serious symptoms to the internal organs like from the Box Jelly. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I was stung November 2013 at stingray city sandbar! very very painful. I was rushed in an emergency speedboat and into an ambulance from there. I was hyperventilating and shaking. vinegar provides almost instant relief.

  2. Anonymous says:

    On one of my first night dives here (at what was then Seaview) I was instructed to surface only at the ladder, and only from the deepest approach, holding my purge valve open to clear a column of air bubbles up the ladder area to blast away sea wasps and thimbles.  Seems to work.  

  3. Anonymous says:

    Look out land people, here come th jellies!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Think they may out at Starfish Point/Kaibo too


    • Wilma says:

      As we tried to snorkle to admire starfish off Starfish Point on 11/14/2013, we saw a few of them right on the shallow closest to shore, practically above the starfish. My husband continued snorkleing heading away from shore not certain if they the creatures were jellies. Upon return, he reported larger and more jellies further out. It was a partially cloudy day, so it seems the jellies were out to play while it was cloudy. Luckily no one in our group was stung.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    In Hawaii they post signs on Waikiki beach when there is an invasion of jelly fish. The increase usually goes with a moon cycle, see this link

    At least you are warned there and it is up to you to decide if you still want to go for a swim. In my 4 years in Grand Cayman I have never seen any warnings anywhere, despite being regularly stung by what I assume were jelly fish.  Once, when my son visited, we had to leave water after being repeatedly stung by something that felt like electrical shocks. Very uncomfortable, but not really painful.  The marks on the body would normally heal fast.

     It was in December and January though and we normally swim in front of  Governor's residence. Other people would swim next to us and not being stung at all. I think it has to do with your body electrical system. Some people’s electrical impulses might not be strong enough to deter it.

  6. Craig Mock says:

    I got stung 20 years ago on a night dive in the harbor.  Worst sting I ever had.  Spent the night in hospital.  Watch out!!!!

  7. Hoping for better days says:


    • Anonymous says:

      I don't know if it is these, but there are more jelly fish around on SMB now swim colleague hit one last week…I hit one last August and went into shock..maybe August is a bad month for them? Warmest seas?