Encountering jellyfish at the beach

Lifeguards News Release

All RNLI lifeguards are trained to deal with jellyfish stings – just another reason to visit a lifeguarded beach this summer!

Nudi

Jellyfish

At certain times of year, jellyfish come close to shore and it is hard to avoid them in the water. Although jellyfish have a bad reputation based on their stinging tentacles, a vast majority are harmless to humans. In the UK and Irish waters, there are six main species.

The most common is the moon jellyfish with four circles visible inside the centre of the creature. This species has little effect on humans and mainly causes a temporary rash with some possible discomfort. Following is the barrel jellyfish, the biggest species in nearby waters, which often drift into the shallows and onto the beach. Their sting is very mild and not normally harmful to humans, however, it is advised that people do not touch washed up jellyfish.

The lion’s mane jellyfish proves more harmful to humans and their tentacles can cause serious pain if you come into contact with them; most people report feeling a shock when stung. The least common is the Portuguese man o’war, although not technically a jellyfish, their sting can leave cause serious pain. However, it is unlikely beachgoers will encounter this species.

If you know you will be swimming in the sea alongside jellyfish, it is advised to minimise the amount of exposed skin to reduce your risk of stings. Wetsuits and rash vests offer good protection to most jellyfish tentacles.

However, most commonly, people get stung when touching a washed up jellyfish on the beach. Even if the jellyfish appears dead, many can still sting you once ashore.

RNLI lifeguards are excellently trained in dealing with jellyfish stings – all the more reason to visit a lifeguarded beach this summer! If you’re planning to swim along the coast, ensure you visit a lifeguarded beach.

If you are stung by a jellyfish a lifeguard will:

- Scrape off any remaining tentacles. Do not rub these into the skin as it will cause more damage

- Apply cold sea water. This alleviates the pain, do not urinate on the sting. This is only used in films and TV shows and is not effective!

- Avoid applying cold packs. This doesn’t help and can make it more painful.

- Wait after treatment. Lifeguards will continue monitoring you for around 30 minutes to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

If you are visiting a lifeguarded beach this summer and see a jellyfish, do not touch it. Instead report it to a lifeguard who will quickly be on hand to help.

For more information on how to stay safe this summer, please visit: RNLI Beach Safety – Top Five Tips To Stay Safe By The Sea

Notes to editors

For more information on the type of sea creatures you may encounter at the beach, please visit: https://rnli.org/magazine/magazine-featured-list/2021/august/sea-creatures

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Derry Salter, RNLI Media Engagement Placement on: 07890 402106 or email: [email protected]

Or, the RNLI Press Office available 24/7 on: 01202 336789 or email: [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.