A Public Service Announcement from Getting Nauti
(Or; Don't pee on me! Use Vinegar!)
OK, Nauti Ones, what do you think we’re going to talk about today? Given some new designs in our Getting Nauti apparel line, we could regale you with nautical tales about mermaids, surfers, sharks or martinis.
“Martinis” you ask?
Don’t worry, we’ll find a nautical element…. Like how this popular drink’s origins may have evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez, which was served by San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel to people taking the evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.
Sure, it might be a stretch, but San Francisco is certainly a nautically oriented town, and that early version was mixed with a boat ride in mind. And trust us, we can find more nautical themes related to the martini if needed.
But no, we’re going to use this blog as a public service announcement of sorts. Why?
Because, the start of summer and three months of nautical-oriented summertime fun is upon us!
Fun on the water!
But we want your nautically oriented summertime fun to be safe. We don’t like losing customers to rip currents, man-overboard situations, heat stroke, red tide, the bends, drowning, sailboat booms to heads, motorboat collisions, sharks, salt-water crocodiles, pirates, or just plain old idiocy.
What’d we forget?
OK, we just don’t like losing customers period, but meeting one’s demise while pursuing nautical fun makes such a loss especially tragic.
While our above list of potential threats to nautical-minded fun seekers is about complete, we did purposely omit one very real threat. And this one’s a biggie, but people in general just don’t seem to be aware that this ocean-based threat kills, maims and injures hundreds of people every year.
In fact, forget being worried about sharks, because this sea critter is responsible for almost 6,000 recorded “deaths” since 1954, far more than the 3,000 or so confirmed shark “attacks” during that same time period. Also of concern, scientists believe that the range of this creature is expanding and that the number of annual human fatalities and injuries is going to rise as a result.
OK, what is it?
We are referring to that mindless gelatinous blob known as the jellyfish. But not just any jellyfish, and not even the dreaded Portuguese man o’ war that your parents likely warned you about back when you first went to the beach as a kid.
Portuguese man o’ war
No, we’re talking about the various jellyfish species of the Cubozoa class, known as box jellyfish, several of which produce extremely potent venom that makes the sting of a man o’ war seem like a mosquito bite in comparison.
The largest of the known species—Chironex Fleckeri (AKA Sea Wasp)—is responsible for most of the deaths. A basketball-size blob with six-foot-long tentacles, the Sea Wasp is commonly found from the waters of northern Australia up to the Philippines and Vietnam, so no worries if you’re keeping to the home waters for your nautical fun.
Well, no worries from the Sea Wasp, anyhow. Other species of box jellyfish are making increasing numbers of appearances every year in American waters and in the Caribbean. With more than 39 known species in the world, scientists apparently haven’t nailed down the new visitors to our coast, but it seems that they may not be as deadly as the Sea Wasp—there were no fatalities when hundreds of swimmers were stung by a box jellyfish swarm that hit Daytona Beach in 2014.
Nevertheless, some box jellyfish new to our shores are thought to be of the Irukandaji class, which can deliver a nasty sting on par with that of the Sea Wasp, and a sting that can induce life threatening Irukandji Syndrome in some people. In fact, people diagnosed with the syndrome after being stung by jellyfish in Florida, is how researchers know that this class of jellyfish is now in Florida waters.
That said, we couldn’t find any evidence of box jellyfish fatalities in the U.S., but imagine that it’s only a matter of time, especially if their numbers continue to grow.
What to look for, and what to do should you encounter one, you ask?
Well that’s a tough one because unlike other jellyfish like the man o’ war, box jellyfish are translucent and pretty much invisible when in the water. Thus, you’ll first notice one if it sucker punches you with one (or all, God forbid) of its tentacles, with each tentacle containing up to 5,000 stinging nematocysts that act like stinging darts to inject their poison. And if you do get stung by one, get the hell out of the water fast, as box jellyfish generally swim in swarms.
Are we making your skin crawl yet?
If you manage to escape, whatever you do, don’t pour cold water on the stings, as cold water stimulates “unfired” nematocysts to inject their venom. Also, the bit about curing a jellyfish sting with urine is a crock, so don’t bother asking someone to pee on you. The best known first response is to treat the affected area with vinegar, which is thought to neutralize the nematocysts. Then remove any tentacles and monitor yourself—or have someone else monitor you—for shock, breathing patterns or any signs of distress that warrant a 911 call or visit to the emergency room.
Don't pee on me! Use Vinegar!
But, other than perhaps the vinegar, don’t take our advice—if one of these horrid creatures stings you, seek professional help. And thank us later for helping you remember the part about vinegar.