Tybee Island lifeguards treat 300 people for jellyfish stings this past weekend

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - As soon as you walk onto Tybee Beach, there are signs warning about stinging marine life, which includes jellyfish.

This past weekend, that warning rang especially true.

Lifeguards on the island treated 300 people for jellyfish stings this past Saturday alone which is an abnormally high number, according to Tybee Island beach rescue.

However, the jellyfish aren’t here just to be a nuisance to swimmers, there’s an environmental explanation for their presence.

“There was a strong easterly wind, that’s wind blowing east to the west towards Tybee Island offshore, so it’s likely there were schools of jellyfish out there offshore, and they blew in there with the wind and the weather over the past couple of weeks,” Public Information Officer Tyler Jones said.

Jellyfish are really at the mercy of the tides, Jones says. They don’t really swim so much as float around so when they’ll leave Tybee Island is up to nature.

“Eventually the tide will come in high enough that it’ll carry them out. And it’s possible that they’ll also be food for other animals in the ecosystem, so shorebirds, crabs, things like that that’ll eat the carcasses of the jellyfish that are left on the beaches,” Jones said.

In the meantime, the jellyfish have been keeping beachgoers out of the water, for fear of being stung.

“Yesterday at this same location a little boy was stung in the face by a jellyfish. A few minutes ago I went to the edge of the water and that was the first thought, was that little boy yesterday, and I didn’t want to ruin my vacation with a possible jellyfish sting,” Eadie Mckenzie, vistor said.

“We’ve seen at least three families leave because they’ve been stung by jellyfish. I didn’t think the threat was a big deal, but now I’m a little bit concerned as a guy from Iowa who knows nothing about jellyfish,” Daniel Nietzel, vistor said.

The jellyfish aren’t stinging swimmers to be malicious, Jones says. They’re often just startled or trying to eat.

“Some of the larger, more potent jellyfish will be able to sting fish and things like that so they can eat them, but no, they’re not actively thinking they’re trying to come get you or anything like that,” Jones said.

Jones also says jellyfish showing up in high numbers like this is fairly common and can be expected two or three times a year.

Tybee Beach Rescue says if you do get stung by a jellyfish to exfoliate the area with wet sand, and then head to a lifeguard tower to use jellyfish spray on the sting, which is a combination of vinegar and water.

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