Jellyfish are beautiful to watch gliding through the water and snorkelling with them can be quite an experience. Equally, respect for our marine life is important and we should know what to do if we do have an encounter which is a bit too close for comfort.
Snorkelling in the water around Lundy Island we saw what was perhaps, the biggest selection of jellyfish I have seen in a long time. One of our snorkellers had a ‘coming together’ with a compass jellyfish and had quite a red mark to show for it.
- Marg Baldwin, Snorkel Instructor Trainer
How to stay safe when snorkelling with jellyfish
- Do get to know the different types of jellyfish we have in UK waters and when they are likely to appear and if they will harm you.
- Do take precautions to avoid being stung, such as looking out for beach warning signs and keep an eye on the local press for the area you are visiting – for example, if significant numbers of jellyfish are in the area the media will ‘cover the story’.
- Remember to look but don’t touch.
- Do wear protective clothing, such as a wetsuit and wetsuit boots or some other footwear.
What to do if you get stung by a jellyfish
- Vinegar is no longer recommended for treating jellyfish stings as it may make things worse by activating unfired stinging cells.
- Other substances, such as alcohol and baking soda, should also be avoided.
- The current advice is to use a credit card, or similar, to remove any small poisonous sacs that are stuck to the skin. It may help to apply a small amount of shaving cream to the affected area first.
- Any remaining tentacles should be removed using tweezers or a clean stick (wear gloves if they're available).
- Applying an ice pack to the affected area helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
- After a being stung, any pain and swelling can be treated with painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Check out our snorkel safety blog on snorkelling with seals