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News  


 

Killer Jellyfish arrives in Sri Lanka

By Sarasi Paranamanna

A poisonous species of jellyfish has been seen on the Mount Lavinia beach recently and the public is warned to be on alert when walking on the beach as the species known as blue jellyfish could be deadly.
Senior Environmentalist cum lawyer Jagath Gunawardena told The Nation that the poison contained in this jellyfish, which is known as the ‘man of war’ jellyfish might cause the people to develop allergy conditions such as itching and reddening of the skin, if stung, or made bodily contact.
No deaths caused by this jellyfish have been reported in Sri Lanka, but the toxin of the ‘man of war’ jellyfish is considered deadly as people tend to experience severe allergy conditions if stung or made bodily contact with this jellyfish.

The jellyfish can be identified by its blue colour and its shape resembles a “kithul flower.” The public is advised to be alert and be careful when bathing or wading in the sea as these jellyfish are washed ashore and it is hard to spot them even in shallow water when they are covered with sand.
Every year from June to August different species of jellyfish are washed ashore, but the ‘man of war’ jellyfish is considered to be a harmful type. When the ‘man of war’ jellyfish stings or its tentacles get entangled on a human body, its cells release a toxin which is poisonous enough to kill, so it is not safe to touch these jellyfish, if they are seen in water or on the beach.

“The gravity of the sting or poison that is discharged from the jellyfish’s cells depends on how the affected person’s body reacts to allergy conditions, how much toxin has been released and the size of the jellyfish,” said Gunawardena.
This carnivorous jellyfish paralyses its preys with the toxin released from its nettle cells and only one type of fish is immune to its toxin. In countries such as Australia there have been reports of human deaths caused by the ‘man of war’ jellyfish.
When a person comes in contact with this jellyfish, it is not safe to remove it with bare hands. In order to remove the entangled jellyfish a spirit which contains alcohol should be poured on the jellyfish and afterwards it would be safe if the creature is removed with an instrument or with gloved hands.
Gunawardena added that the person who comes into contact with the jellyfish poison should be immediately directed to receive medical treatments.