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Warning as jellyfish wash ashore in Auckland

Published: 5 December 2016
Auckland Council is warning the public to be cautious when entering the water at some east coast beaches, after numerous lion's mane jellyfish washed ashore. The jellyfish can range in size, with some up to 8cm in diameter. 

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Check the water for jellyfish before you enter, warns expert

Auckland Council is urging the public to be cautious following numerous reports of large groups of jellyfish washing up on a number of east coast beaches.

Warm weather and onshore winds can bring jellyfish into beaches during the warmer months, and they can appear at any Hauraki Gulf beach at any time.

“The lion’s mane jellyfish that have been washing up at different times and locations on east coast beaches, Waiheke and Great Barrier islands are not poisonous, however the public should avoid them when swimming due to their sting,” says the council’s regional environmental control manager, Marcus Herrmann.

“If you plan to enter the water, do a visual check beforehand.”

“In some cases they have been pushed into harbours and inlets in sizeable amounts – it’s best to find an alternative swimming location on those days.

"It is not clear what combination of environmental and other factors is causing these jellyfish to appear this year in such high numbers,” he says.

The council strongly recommends keeping an eye on dogs and young children at all times to ensure their safety. If your dog begins showing signs of illness, take them to a vet immediately. 

Medical advice

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service says most jellyfish stings in New Zealand are not serious and, if given prompt first aid, people are not likely to develop significant symptoms.

Symptoms of jellyfish stings include immediate intense pain, with burning and itching at the site of the sting. The sting often appears as a welt with surrounding redness. Rarely, victims can develop symptoms such as breathing difficulty or loss of consciousness.

How to treat a jellyfish sting

  • Wash the affected area with fresh or saltwater.
  • Remove any tentacles or stings attached to the skin – but do not touch the tentacles or stings with your bare hands.
  • Place the affected area in warm water (45C).
  • Do not apply vinegar, methylated spirits or alcohol, as these will make the sting more painful.
  • If the reaction to the sting is severe or the symptoms worsen, antihistamines and steroid creams may be helpful. If the person has reduced consciousness or difficulty breathing call 111 and ask for an ambulance.

For more information on jellyfish stings, please visit the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website or call 09 623 4600 for advice.

More information on water quality monitoring is available on the Safeswim website or by calling 0800 SAFESWIM (0800 723 379).