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Jellyfish Season in Israel

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Last Updated on July 4, 2022

Jellyfish season in Israel begins. First reports. Beach goers beware!

fried egg jellyfish
The Fried-egg Jellyfish – Image credit: Meduzot.co.il

The Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Center is responsible for informing the public of jellyfish activity along Israel’s shoreline.  Summer swarms of jellyfish, like the Nomadic Jellyfish (Rhopilema nomadica) are often spread along Israel’s coastline; from Ashkelon to Nahariya.  In the summer months from June – August,  jellyfish stings are regularly reported on the southern, central and on the northern beaches of Israel, where bathers describe “stinging waters” nearshore.  Offshore jellyfish clusters can reach a size of 300-400m.

Large blooms of jellyfish have  been reported on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline, around Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and Akko and Nahariya.

Appearance

The are 17 different species of jellyfish that inhabit Israel’s waters. The  Nomadic Jellyfish for example, is light blue in color and can be confused with a ‘nylon’ grocery bag floating in the water.

One of the most common species in the Gulf of Eilat is the Golden Moon jellyfish – Aurelia – which generally arrives in Eilat during the spring season in gigantic swarms.

The fried egg jelly fish has a yellowish/orange dome surrounded by a ring resembling a fried egg.

The jellyfish sting

Some jellyfish stings have very little or no effect on humans, a slight redness or itchy patch could also develop, while the venom of others is more dangerous and can result is very panful injuries and even be life-threatening.

Nomadic jellyfish, common in Israel’s waters, have filaments covered in venomous stinging cells which are designed to paralyze their prey which includes plankton and fish.

In 2018 more people required hospitalization than ever before and was the worst year on record for jellyfish stings.

What if you get stung? Urine, sea-water, vinegar or Fenestil?  What’s best?

Treat a jellyfish sting as if it was a burn – that’s what the experts say. There are however varying opinions; the 24 hour poison center at Rambam Hospital suggest washing the sting with tepid, running water for 20 minutes, scientists at The University of Haifa say that treating the sting with vinegar actually makes it worse.  Vinegar works well on Box Jellyfish but they are generally not found in the Mediterranean.  What about urine – a commonly suggested remedy? NO, it’s a myth.  Also, do NOT rub beach sand into the burn as dirt and organisms in the sand can infect the wound.

For the type of jellyfish in Israel waters, it is recommend to was the area with clear saltwater or seawater (but if the water is infested with minute jellyfish, the sea water method is less effective).

If the sting covers a large area, if swelling is serious or you have an allergic reaction, seek medical treatment immediately.  Antihistamines may be prescribed by a doctor.

Emergency first-aid, here is what you can do

  • Wash the area carefully with water.  Do not rub.
  • Apply a mixture of equal parts water and baking soda for two minutes – this will block the firing of any stinging cells left on the skin.
  • Remove residual tentacles and the baking soda with the edge of a plastic credit card
  • Apply a cold pack (a plastic bag with ice, or even a cold soda can wrapped in a piece of fabric or a shirt) for 5-15 minutes
  • In pain persists, reapply the cold pack for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Consult a doctor and ask for appropriate treatment
  • If you get stung in or around your eyes, seek medical attention immediately. Call 101 for assistance or the Poison Control Hotline at Rambam Hospital for advice.

The end of the jellyfish season in Israel

Jellyfish season in Israel usually ends late in July or toward the middle of August.  Some say that jellyfish season coincides with the days leading up to Tisha B’Av, when swimming is forbidden.

Jellyfish trivia

  • The collective name of a group of jellyfish is a bloom, smack or swarm
  • The lifespan of a jellyfish is 2 – 6 months
  • Only 5% of the jellyfish is solid matter
  • The common Hebrew term for a jellyfish is ‘Meduza’.

If you are visiting Eilat, take in the aquarium and see the numerous species of meduzot in the jellyfish pool from a very safe distance.

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