Stings from marine animals can cause injury. Reactions range from mild inflammation to a severe reaction. Some types of stings can be deadly. Most stings occur in shallow ocean water. Some marine animals that sting are jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war. These animals sting by firing special tentacles called nematocysts. Nematocysts contain poison. Stinging is how these animals capture their prey and defend themselves against attack. It is important to identify the offending animal because in many cases care is quite specific.
What Parents Should Look For
- A raised bump or ridge (welt) with redness
- Burning pain
- Muscle cramping
First Aid Care for Marine Animal Stings
- Remove the child from the water.
- Rinse the skin with sea water.
- Pour vinegar on the affected area until pain is relieved. Unlike fresh water, vinegar will make the nematocysts inactive.
Try to remove the loose tentacles by scraping them off with the edge of a sharp, stiff object such as a credit card. Do not handle tentacles with bare hands.