Jellyfish warning issued

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 22 Feb 2020

Pretty peril: the Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish can sting even when its tentacles are detached.

PETALING JAYA: A highly venomous jellyfish, the Portuguese man o’ war, has been found in Terengganu waters in the past week, prompting authorities to warn beachgoers to exercise caution.

The state Fisheries Department issued the warning for a 60km stretch of the Terengganu coast from Pantai Bari to Pulau Kekabu.

The man o’ war, with long tentacles capable of delivering an excruciatingly painful sting that is sometimes powerful enough to kill a human, had been found washed ashore on Pantai Pulau Kekabu in Marang, Pantai Rhu Sepuluh in Penarek and Pantai Bari in Setiu.

Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali warned the public not to touch the jellyfish, even when they are dead, or swim at the beaches where they are found.

“Jellyfish that have washed up on a beach may still release venomous stingers if touched, ” he said.

“Recently, the species was found in Kuantan and Pulau Tioman in Pahang, and Sabah and Thai waters, ” he said, adding that the department collected between eight and 10 of such jellyfish from Terengganu’s beaches daily since last Wednesday.

On Thursday, about 30 man o’ war were found washed on the Pulau Kekabu beach.

“We are working closely with the local council to warn beachgoers on the danger of this jellyfish by putting up warning signs, ” he said.

The department anticipated the venomous jellyfish “season” to end by late March or early April when wind direction changes, he added.

Those stung by this species should not apply vinegar as the stinging cells would continue to stimulate the toxin discharge and cause more pain, a doctor said. Seawater should be used to rinse and remove the tentacles that contained the microscopic stinging cells, before quickly seeking medical help, he added.

The man o’ war is usually found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, but was also reported in Melaka, Penang and Singapore.

This species can be identified by its translucent bluish-purple or pink tinge. The ones found in Malaysia have tentacles as long as 3m.

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