We are all familiar with that moment we are in the ocean and you hear some one say they just saw a jellyfish. Then the dilemma begins: should you get out of the water and let the potential jellyfish sighting win? Or should you stand your ground and stay in the water with the risk of getting stung?
Well this is a serious dilemma, but with some education, the decision should be easier! We have several different kind of jellyfish here in the waters of Hilton Head. The most common jelly is the Cannonball Jellyfish. Cannonball jellyfish have a brown/pink pigment and are not completely see through like other jellyfish (Pictured Below). They also do not sting. If they feel threatened, they can release a toxin that will sting your eyes so never touch your eyes after you've touched a Cannonball Jellyfish until you wash your hands, however they will not sting your skin.
In the spring, the adult cannonball jellies will lay their eggs and we will see them washed up on shore very frequently during these months. Right now, the eggs have hatched and we have a plethora of baby jellies in our water just in time for our new baby sea turtles to grab a snack! Cannonball jellies are also a food source for humans. In Georgia, these jellies are dried and shipped out to parts of Asia where they are a delicacy.
The jellyfish you need to be aware of are the sea nettles. They are orange in color and more see through than cannonball jellies. They will sting, and while these jellyfish are not human killers, their stings will hurt. The best thing to do when you get stung initially is take a credit card and rub it on the sting in the direction the hair grows to remove the stingers, then rinse the sting with warm water. Aloe is always a good option for after care, however you should always seek medical advice. The nearest lifeguard station can help you clean out your sting.
We also have Portuguese Man O' War and Sea Wasps in our waters which are rarely ever encountered, however they do migrate up this way and they are no joke. These species are very venomous. Similar to bee stings, if you are not allergic then you should just focus on tending to the wound. If swelling occurs or if the sting sight is not healing, definitely seek professional medical attention.
Therefore, if you're in the water and you hear someone say they've seen a jellyfish, ask the right questions! What does it look like? Where was it? Do your research before you let it ruin your relaxing day on the beach!