Moon jellyfish sting: how dangerous is it and how to treat it

Moon jellyfish are the most common species found in Ireland’s waters.  Here’s everything you need to know if you get a moon jellyfish sting.

Moon jellyfish have lots of different nicknames, including common or saucer jellyfish. They are also often called by their scientific name ‘aurelia aurita’.

They are the most common species of jellyfish found around Ireland, and luckily, are not dangerous to humans.

As waters warm around the coast, Irish shores provide the perfect home for moon jellyfish. Found around April to September, they are usually seen together in large groups.

With more people travelling in the summertime to take a plunge in the inviting Irish waters, it’s good to know what to do if you get stung. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the moon jellyfish sting.

Where are they found? – common around the UK and Ireland

Where you can find moon jellyfish.
Credit: Flickr / Travis

It’s good to know that Irish waters are typically colder, meaning only several species of jellyfish find themselves living in Irish waters. In comparison to countries with warmer climates, Irish shores see very few jellyfish species.

You are more likely to find dangerous jellyfish in warm tropical waters. However, it’s good to proceed with caution, as many species’ sting can still have deadly effects on humans.  

Moon jellies are common around UK seas. This makes them common around Ireland, typically being the most common species found in the country.

In the water, you can identify them by the fact that they float just below the surface of the water. They also often wash up on the shore. So, you can even find them lying along Irish beaches.

The sting – how dangerous is it?

How dangerous is a moon jellyfish sting?
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

It’s good to know what kind of jellyfish you’re dealing with if you spot one in the water around Ireland.

Amazingly, the moon jellyfish sting is so mild that you can actually pick them up from their back without being stung. However, this is not advised, as many other species of jellyfish seen around Ireland possess deadly stings.

If you see a lion’s mane jellyfish, you will want to proceed with caution. They are around 6.6 ft (2 m) in diameter and have a very serious sting, which has caused some people to suffer anaphylactic shock.

Meanwhile, compass jellyfish are easily spotted by their unique compass-like markings. Their sting is also very painful; contact with this jelly is definitely something that should be avoided where possible.

However, in comparison, moon jellyfish are actually harmless, which is a relief for many looking to explore the Irish coasts and seas.

How to spot a moon jellyfish – known for their moon-shaped body

How to spot a moon jellyfish.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Jellyfish are a unique animal, being 95% water and having no brain, heart, or blood.

Moon jellies are quite small, being around 25 to 40 cm in diameter (or the size of a dinner plate). You can identify them by their trademark gonads, which are the four purple circular markings within their translucent dome-shaped jelly.

This is where they actually get their name, as their round shape and unique markings resemble a moon. They also have short, delicate tentacles.

How to treat a moon jellyfish sting – don’t panic, and don’t pee on it

How to treat a moon jellyfish sting.
Credit: Pixabay / Deedster

Don’t panic if you get a moon jellyfish sting, as it is not serious.

Moon jellyfish do not actually have enough stinging power to penetrate the skin. They will instead just leave a minor stinging sensation. You might feel some mild irritation and pain, but this will soon ease.

One thing that is important to remember is to not pee on the area which has been stung! Doing this will not only potentially ruin friendships but doesn’t actually work.

Instead, clean out the sting area with seawater. If the irritation remains on the moon jellyfish sting, you can use baking soda mixed with a little seawater to further ease the pain.

If required, it’s recommended that you provide simple pain relief to ease the sting.

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