It’s heating up in the Grand Strand so you know what that means, right? Tourist and dead jellyfish.
In recent weeks, sea jellies of all types have covered beaches along the 60-mile stretch of the Grand Strand. Although it may be fun to study them, state officials say some of them are dangerous and should be avoided.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources cautions beachgoers from investigating jellyfish too closely because they may sting you, even when they’re dead. Jellyfishes have also washed up in Hilton Head.
The department recommends that anyone stung by a jellyfish should remove the tentacles from skin using sand, clothing, towels, seaweed or other items. Tentacles left on skin will continue to discharge venom. Using items such as meat tenderizers, sugar, vinegar, plant juices and sodium bicarbonate may help reduce symptoms caused by jellyfish stings, according to an article by the department’s Marine Resources Division.
The agency also warns against putting alcohol or urine on stings as it can increase the pain and cause severe skin reactions. Officials suggest getting medical attention if pain and swelling continues.
Erin Weeks, spokesperson for the department, said they do not keep track of jellyfish or reported stings, but she added the agency is likely to post on social media when highly venomous jellyfish appear in large numbers in South Carolina waters.
She added that at least seven jellyfish species can be found in the Grand Strand, but said the “most commonly seen onshore by beachgoers are likely cannonballs, which are most common here in the warmer months.”
Cannonball Jelly- Most common jellyfish in the area and one of the least venomous. They are largely spotted near the coat and in the mouths of estuaries during the summer and fall months. The jellies don’t have any tentacles but have have round white bells bordered below by a brown or purple band.
Lion’s Mane- Usually appears during colder months. The bell, measuring 6-8 inches, is saucer-shaped with reddish-brown oral arms and eight clusters of tentacles hanging underneath. Pain from stings is relatively mild and often described as burning rather than stinging.
Mushroom Jelly- The jelly grows 10-20 inches in diameter and has a chunky feeding apparatus. It doesn’t have any tentacles.
Southern Moon Jelly- The moon jelly appears infrequently on the South Carolina coast. It has a transparent, saucer-shaped bell and is easily identified by the four pink “horseshoes” visible through the bell. It typically reaches 6-8 inches in diameter.
Sea Nettle– The jellyfish is saucer-shaped, usually brown or red, and 6-8 inches in diameter. They often appear in summer months and their stings can be moderate to severe. Sea Nettle’s cause most jellyfish stings in the state.
Sea Wasp– The jelly is also called the box jelly because of its cube-shaped bell. It is the most venomous jellyfish in South Carolina. A Sea Wasp sting can cause skin irritation and could lead to hospitalization. They are 5-6 inches in diameter and 4-6 inches in height and have long tentacles.
Portuguese Man-of-War-This marine animal is not a jellyfish but related to the species and is highly venomous. The man-of-War are not usually in the area unless pushed to the coast by wind and ocean currents. It is a purple-blue color and can be up to 10 inches long. Stings can result in intense joint and muscle pain, headaches, shock, collapse, faintness, hysteria, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting. Severe stings can occur even when the animal is beached or dead.