Defining ‘jellyfish season’

Universiti Sains Malaysia is taking the lead to conduct a 30-month study to define the "jellyfish season" in Penang, said marine biology science officer Sim Yee Kwang.

He said the study which began last July, showed there were more jellyfish from July to September while last month appeared to be jellyfish-free.

“In Pantai Kerachut, we found a rare South China Sea species which may be from the Nemopilema genus. Of the three we spotted there, the biggest weighs over 50kg and is the size of a 21-inch television set.

“The other four species we found include the common brown one called Chrysaora quinquecirrha,” he said in an interview yester- day.

Wet vocation:Sim taking a closer look at a jellyfish caught in a plastic bag.

Sim, who led the seven-member research team, said their objective of defining the monthly distribution of jellyfish in Penang waters was to help swimmers and tourists discern the best months for water activities.

“So far, there has been no such comprehensive study and data on jellyfish undertaken in Malaysia because the subject does not have economical value.

“The jellyfish fauna of Malaysia has been dealt with in only recent publications which recorded more than 10 species,” he said.

He said his team’s research sites included Teluk Bahang, Teluk Aling, Teluk Duyung, Muka Head, Teluk Ketapang, Pantai Kerachut, Teluk Kampi and Pantai Mas.

He added that most of the jellyfish were found in Pantai Kerachut and Pantai Mas while no specimen was recorded in Teluk Ketapang.

Based on the study, more jellyfish were found in areas with low levels of phytoplankton, oxygen, temperature and salinity.

A team member Prof Zulfigar Yasin said as most jellyfish sting cases occurred along the Batu Ferringhi tourism belt, it was imperative to educate hotel staff and traders there on how to give first-aid to the victims.

“This nuisance species can come up into very shallow waters - within one foot (0.3 metres) from the beach. Even if their poisonous sting is not lethal, victims may die from drowning due to paralysis.

“And for children, they don’t require a large dosage of poison to die,” he said.

Giving some first-aid tips, he said: “Don’t touch the wound as this will increase the production of more venom. Pour vinegar on the wound and rush the victim to hospital.”

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