MALAGA – Currently, there is a large amount of jellyfish close to the coast. As such, yellow warning flags have been flying for several days as on beaches in the province of Malaga.
Climate change, water conditions, the urbanisation of the Mediterranean coast, and other factors have led to the greater distribution of this animal on the coast of Malaga.
Earlier than normal
Jesús Bellido, doctor of marine biology at the University of Malaga, biologist at the Aula del Mar, and head of the ‘Infomedusa’ app, emphasises “the news is not that jellyfish show themselves frequently, but rather that they do so earlier in the season.”
Bellido continues: “In the summers of 2019 and 2020 there were also many jellyfish. But they were especially frequent at the end of August or at the beginning of September. Although, this year, since the beginning of July, jellyfish have regularly been a nuisance to bathers.”
Not all reach the beaches
However, the increase in these vertebrates does not mean they are all reaching the beaches. This requires the fulfillment of a series of conditions. These involve winds, tides, and circular currents from the Alboran Sea that trap these schools of jellyfish in a spiral of water and push them toward shore.
Furthermore, the Aula del Mar biologist assures that the jellyfish “are striking for their size. But they are not dangerous” and that seeing them is “a great opportunity to see an animal with these characteristics”. Therefore, he wants to invite people to “enjoy watching jellyfish without fear and without disturbing the animal.” If jellyfish get into the sand, they should be removed. But into the water, as the animals should be respected, is the biologist’s view.
Aula del Mar conducts annual research by collecting as much information as possible about the jellyfish and their behaviour. This is in order to learn more about the natural cycle of this species. Furthermore, it involves the cooperation of all lifeguards along the coast and of many private volunteers who share information with the biologists. This helps them to better understand the species.
The Aula del Mar collaborates with the Diputación de Málaga through the Infomedusa app. Therefore, users can check on the app whether their beach is jellyfish-free and will also find other information there. For example, you can gain insight into the environmental status of 132 beaches in the province (95% of the coastline). And what the day will look like in terms of temperature, wind strength and direction, wave height, and water temperature. There are also tips on what to do if you are stung by a jellyfish.
What to do if you are stung
In the event of a jellyfish sting, the application recommends that you quickly go to the nearest emergency or lifeguard station. Other recommendations in that case are:
- Do not rub the wound with sand, towels, or tissues.
- Wash the area with cold saltwater, never fresh water.
- Apply ice through a plastic bag or similar to avoid contact with fresh water.
- Do not use home remedies (vinegar, mud, or similar).
The Aula del Mar biologist adds to these tips that “when you come across a jellyfish, you have to stay calm. The sting of a jellyfish is very mild despite its size.” Understand that the animal is in its own environment and that you must respect that”.