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Large numbers of jellyfish (Medusa (singular) and Medusas (plural) in Spanish) have been a problem from time to time in certain warm Mediterranean beaches in the early Summer in recent years. 2005 and 2014 were years of high numbers.  2016 was not a summer of large number of Jellyfish. However in August 2021 large jellyfish on the Costa del Sol due to ideal condition in the spring in the Alboran sea. They generally reach the coast after a few days of easterly wind. This happend in mid-August 2021 during the heatwave following two weeks of easterly 'Levante' wind and again in early August 2022.

On popular beaches with lifeguard service a yellow warning flag or a red prohibition flag will fly.

When the number are large the authorities in conjunction with 'Aula del Mar' in Malaga organise for boats remove jellyfish for the near coastal water.

The 'Pelagia noctiluca' is the name of the small jellyfish that are most frequent on the Malaga coast. This jellyfish is mushroom-shaped, transparent and pinkish with yellow spots. It has 8 fine marginal tentacles (tenticales that are attached to the edge of the umbrella) and four very long tenticles hanging form the centrre which can measure a few meters in length. It has a mushroom-shaped umbrella that can measure up to four inches. It has 16 small mouthlobes located in the center of the lower part of the umbrella (bell).

In 2021 other jellyfish were being sighted that were normally not so frequent.

The 'Rhizostoma Luteum' is a species of which there were hardly any records in Malaga until 201. They are much larger and more cumbersome and due to their size attract a lot of attention. However their sting is not as painful as that of the smaller ones."

What to do if you see jellyfish.

Other than the obvious to keep away and not touch the jellyfish in the water or on the sand, and instruct children to do likewise.  In Urban beaches the Town Hall will put up warning signs and life guards will warn bathers. You can always protect yourself by wearing protective clothing such as wetsuits, gloves and goggles and wear sandles. If you are stung, advise the lifegard or go to the Red Cross post (on many urban and all Blue Flag beaches) seek medical assistance or call emergency 112.  

First Aid

The first aid that need to be carried out after a jellyfish stings is as follows. The wound should be washed and imersed in a solution of 5% acetic acid (or failing that Vinegar) for 15 to 30 minutes . In the absence of these substances can be washed with salt water but never with fresh water. Inspect the wound and if needed remove any tenticles or debris that may have become attached. Do not use bare fingers or towels or tissues. Some tenticles can even penetrate surgical gloves so remove gently using forceps or other object with a fine edge (for example, a knife edge, the edge of plastic card)

Although itching is a common symptom one should not scratch the affected area at least until it is cleaned with the above methods.

As for the pain, the application of cold seems to be the best treatment for most of cases, but this must be done using a plastic bag containing ice so that fresh water does not contact with the wound. Do not apply heat. If this cold compress treatment is not enough, administer a painkiller.

To prevent any infection apply a non sensitizing antibiotic ointment. In severe cases antihistamines and corticosteroids may be administered by a doctor. Keep the unluck person under observation for several hours, and if there is any form of alergic reaction it will be necessary to go to a hospital .

Whenever possible it is useful to identify the species of jellyfish, perhaps a mobile phone photograph.

Detailed Guide and App

A more detailed website guide to the Jellyfish (in Spanish) is published by Aula del Mar (a marine conservation organisation in Malaga called InfoMedusa.es is a website in Spanish for the Costa del Sol. For the updated info (daily in summer) on status of beaches download the Aula de Mar APP called InfoJellyfish or Infomedusa (by Digitales Malva2 2020 SL). Registered used can report Jellyfilsh sightings. It also contains Malaga beach data for wind speed and direction, wave height, flag status (based on wave data), popularity, jelyfish levels, seaweed levels.


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