RYE (AP) – Staff at a New Hampshire state park where a dead jellyfish broke apart and stung about 100 swimmers have stocked up on vinegar to ease the pain of future stings – but they don’t expect another calamity.
The giant Lion’s Mane jellyfish broke into pieces Wednesday when staff at Wallis Sands State Beach attempted to remove the gelatinous blob from the water, sending barbed tentacles into the tide. Nine children were treated for stings at a local hospital.
Beach manager Ken Loughlin said his staff raced to a nearby store to buy vinegar, which eases the burning sensation of the stings, while triaging the affected swimmers on Wednesday. He said once the crisis was over they bought four more gallons of vinegar.
Portsmouth General Hospital spokeswoman Christine Galli said the nine children treated at the hospital, ranging in age from 5-10, were bathed in vinegar and given antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medication.
Marine biologists say the jellyfish washed into shallow waters only because it was dead. Lion’s Mane jellyfish prefer the colder, deeper waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean. They average 80 pounds, with tentacles that can grow as long as 150 feet. The jellyfish that washed up at Wallis Sands was estimated to weigh about 50 pounds.
“Usually when they’re washed up on the beach it’s an isolated incident involving a single fish,” said biologist Renee Zobel of the marine fisheries division of the Fish and Game Department.
Loughlin said people were back in the water Thursday and “everything is right back to normal.”
“I’m not anticipating this happening again,” Loughlin said. “I was born and brought up here and I’ve never seen anything like this. We had little jellyfish we would play with. This was a total surprise, but it really was an aberration.”
Five of the children who were taken to the hospital were at the beach on an outing from Camp Foster, run by the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester. Gary Frost, executive director of the club, was at the emergency room when the five were released.
“The swelling had subsided, the pain had subsided,” Frost said Thursday. “They were in good spirits.”