Mid-February 2017, Stinapa published warnings about jellyfish in the waters around Bonaire.
Through a combination of plankton blooms, which attracts jellyfish, and wind reversals, large numbers of jellyfish washed up on the west coast, including some that have painful and nasty stings. Plankton blooms are rare and short-lived. It mainly occurs in colonies on the South American coast. Because of wind reversals they are swept towards our islands. The good news is that plankton and jellyfish are food for turtles, rays and whale sharks.
Portuguese Man of War
On 15 February, a Portuguese Man of War was spotted on the beach at Sorobon. It is a cnidarian with a segment filled with a gas of about 25 cm. Therefore it floats and catches the wind to ‘sail’. Portuguese Man of War has very thin, 70-meter-long tentacles. The victim is slain by poison-filled tiny “harpoons” on the tentacles. Usually the Portuguese Man of War lives in colonies far out at sea. During wind reversals they can come close to the coast. A sting is extremely painful.
Bonaire banded box jellyfish
With the blooming of plankton and wind reversals came the full moon, the mating period of the box jellyfish Tamoya Ohboya. Jellyfish mate in the evening near the coast. Swimming is not recommended during this time. Tamoya Ohboya is a translucent ‘balloon’ swimming sideways. The sting is very painful and can be dangerous. Each month during the first 10 days after the full moon a couple of box jellies Tamoya Ohboya are spotted on Bonaire.
Medical assistance and self-help
Since summer 2016, the hospital on Bonaire has protocols in place for bites and stings, including those of jellyfish. Self-help tools are hot salt water, vinegar (note: not for stings from the Portuguese Man of War) and the medicine Sting No More, available at dive shops and pharmacies. Do not use: urine, fresh water, scratching or rubbing.
Comb jellies are oval shaped box jellyfish with a bright striped ‘comb’ with which they propel themselves. These jellyfish do not sting. And they are great food for sea turtles!
The spot winged comb jelly glows in the dark when something moves – wave your hand in the water when you see them. A beautiful sight!