Box Jellyfish in Thailand

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Lately we have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the presence of box jellyfish off the coast of Thailand. On July 31st of 2015, a Thai woman was killed off the coast of Koh Phangan by a box jellyfish. Before that, a young French boy was killed in August of 2014. Although both of these events on their own were tragic, they are hardly reason to sound the alarm and flee the beaches of Thailand.

Thailand began recording box jellyfish stings about twenty or so years ago. In all that time, there have been a total of six people that have been killed. Now think about that number for a moment. That’s about one person killed every three years. Think about the millions of people that visit Thailand every year to enjoy the tropical waters. The number of deaths caused by box jellyfish in Thailand is statistically insignificant to say the least. Are box jellyfish really something that you should fear?

In all fairness, just because box jellyfish have never been a real threat to swimmers in Thailand in the past, it doesn’t mean that this trend will continue. In the Philippines, every year about twenty to forty Filipinos are killed by box jellyfish stings. This is mainly due to a lack of proper medical care which greatly increases the number of fatal incidences. So the risk is out there, it just hasn’t presented itself to Thailand yet.

The deadly box jellyfish

The deadly box jellyfish | Photo by: Julian Schroeder, on Flickr

The Sting of the Jelly

If you plan on heightening your senses and being on the lookout for box jellyfish, you are out of luck. It is near impossible to spot them prior to feeling the pain of its sting. This is because they are almost completely transparent and extremely difficult to see in the ocean. So really, the best way to know that there is a box jellyfish around is to be stung by one, which is an incredibly terrible warning to say the least.

When a box jellyfish stings its victim, tentacles adhere to the skin and release venom into the victim’s bloodstream. This venom causes extreme pain which can spike blood pressure, stop the heart and kill the victim. Tentacles are often torn from the box jellyfish and remain attached to the victim’s skin. Even detached, the tentacles can continue to release dangerous venom into the victim.

The proper way to treat a box jellyfish sting is the same way that you would treat any sting by a jellyfish, vinegar. It seems like some sort of home remedy that couldn’t possibly work, but vinegar is the best way to prevent further venom to be released into the victim’s body. Unfortunately, the vinegar does nothing at all to alleviate the pain associated with the original sting. So it is important to seek proper medical care. Any tentacles still attached to the victim should be removed with care as to prevent further stinging. At most Thai beaches, there will be bottles of vinegar in the lifeguard towers. However, if you are still afraid of the box jelly, you could always bring your own.

So really, the box jellyfish isn’t much of a threat to the average visitor to Thailand. Accidents can happen and by some stroke of incredibly bad luck, you could possibly get stung. However, there are plenty of much greater threats in Thailand that you should fear before losing any sleep over the box jellyfish. Go out there, enjoy the beautiful ocean, and don’t worry so much about the creatures living in the ocean. They want as much to do with you as you do with them.

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Box Jellyfish in Thailand