One of the most dangerous of all sea creatures is the box jellyfish.
They are famously abundant in Australian waters where fatalities are reported on an annual basis.
They are also present in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the Gulf, we have the four-handed box jellyfish, a species I was made aware of by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist Jerry Mambretti in 2014.
“Our gulf sampling crew caught four-handed box jellyfish, Chiropsalmus quadrumanus, a member of the class Cubozoa, in 3 separate trawl samples about 2 miles off McFaddin NWR beach,” Mambretti said at the time.
“Box jellyfish are known for the extremely potent venom produced by some species, including this species, which is normally found in the west Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean. Their sting is very venomous and dangerous to humans, especially children.”
A study by William Guest noted the species has been known to be abundant in the Matagorda Bay system in the 1950s and their presence has a lot to do with salinity levels..
“The development of a large population coincided with drought conditions and high bay salinities along the Texas Gulf coast. When bay salinities dropped considerably in 1957 the jellyfish disappeared. The jellyfish were found to be living on or near the bottom at all times and preferred areas of soft mud.”
TPWD recommends for most jellyfish stings to splash the area with salt water.
“Then apply a paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer. Don’t press the skin. The pain should go away within an hour. Regular vinegar or a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water also work to alleviate pain.”
If you think you have been stung by a box jellyfish however seek medical attention immediately. Encounters are rare but the potential for serious problems exist if you do happen to bump into one of these tiny creatures.
Chester Moore, Jr.