In the last two days, over 100 people have been stung by the Blue Bottle Jellyfish across Girgaum, Juhu and Aksa beaches. “Several residents have been stung on the beaches since Friday. On Saturday, while at least 40 people were stung on Aksa beach, on Sunday, the figure was 30. In Girgaum, eight persons each were stung on both the days. In Juhu, unofficial figures say that at least 60 people have been stung,” said Pradip Patade, a marine expert.
It is an annual phenomena for the jellyfish to wash onto the shores in the monsoon, as the deep sea creatures are pushed onto the land by the monsoon winds. On shore, they get stuck in the sand and return with the tide. However, most die on the shore. They have a transparent gas filled bladder that helps them float along with tentacles.
“They have one long tentacle and other short ones. These tentacles contain venom, which is used to kill their preys. Even after they die, their tentacles stay poisonous,” said Patade.
The sting causes a burning sensation in humans and tends to cause a swelling with red rashes. While many get stung by stepping on it or by picking them up, experts suggest that it is more dangerous when the person is in the water. “If they are in a large number and come in contact of a person’s skin, there are chances that the person will become numb and drown. However, no fatality has been reported in Mumbai so far,” said Patade.
On being stung, the lifeguards wash the wound with salt water and remove the blue tentacles. The victims are then advised to go to hospitals. On Sunday, Vile Parle-based Dr R N Cooper hospital’s out patient department treated eight patients with jelly fish sting from the Juhu beach. “The patients required ointment and pain killers. In some cases, we had to remove the fish tentacles from skin but nobody required hospitalisation,” said Dean Dr Ganesh Shinde.
While flow of patients with jellyfish bite was high on Sunday, the cases reduced by Monday, he added. “While jellyfish generally stay in Mumbai for three to four days, this year, they first appeared on July 20… on July 30, we observed a mass stranding,” said Patade.
On Friday, Patade complained to the BMC, asking it to put up boards on the beaches to raise awareness about the Blue Bottles. The BMC on Saturday put up boards on the beaches asking the residents to beware of the jellyfish during the Ganpati festival season next month.
“The boards ask residents to go to the treatment centre if stung… it also asks people to avoid going to the sea for Ganpati Visarjan. This is not relevant to the current situation and is of no help in raising awareness. People need to be cautioned,” said Patade.