While it may seem like a cute sea wasp with inverted delicate tentacles jellyfish is surely the world’s most venomous marine creature. However bizarre they may look box jellyfish are as deadly as nobody. These seemingly innocuous creatures are also called marine stingers. Yes, it’s true the box jellyfish’s sting is not only highly painful but it can be fatal to humans. It has the deadliest venoms of all marine invertebrates. Prominent among the species are Chironex fleckeri and Carukia barnesi. These two jellyfish are thought to produce deadly venom. Box jellyfish produce venom to kill fish and shrimp. However apart from few most jellyfish are harmless.
Box Jellyfish Sting Facts | A Deadly Venom
The box jellyfish is generally recognized by its unique cube-shaped appearance and jellylike dome and it is nearly invisible underwater. The jellyfish sting is thought to be the world’s most deadly. It injects venom into the prey very quickly so that the prey wouldn’t damage its fine tentacles.
The box jellyfish sting releases nematocysts along with the venom into the skin. The nematocysts are specialized cells in the jellyfish tentacles which contain venomous coiled threads. These coiled threads are discharged in self-defense causing agonizing pain to the victim. People usually use vinegar which neutralizes the effect of nematocysts but the use of vinegar is not confirmed by the scientific study.
Smallest yet the Most Venomous Jellyfish | Irukandji Jellyfish
Dangerous among the jellyfish live in the Australian waters namely Irukandji the sting of which can cause cardiac arrest in humans. Probably the worst thing about the Irukandji is that its sting goes unnoticeable for up to 30 minutes after that it may be too late. Many people neutralize the jellyfish poison by pouring vinegar over the wound.
The smallest box jellyfish Irukandji is the world’s most venomous jellyfish. It makes habitat in the temperate waters of Florida and Australia. Irukandji jellyfish injects venom into the human body causing Irukandji syndrome. The syndrome causes the extreme pain not only in kidneys and back but it also leads to the muscle cramps in legs. Prominent among the symptoms are unusual increase in heart rate or blood pressure, nausea, headaches, sweating, muscle numbness, chest tightness, restlessness and vomiting.
Soon after the victim is stung he/she must require immediate hospitalization for the syndrome may last up to 30 minutes on average. The sting itself is only moderately felt for it covers only few square centimeters but the systemic effects begin to develop 30 – 40 minutes after the injection. Symptoms of the sting can last as long as 15 to 20 days. While people generally treat jellyfish venom with vinegar researchers believe that the vinegar only promotes the discharge of venom. Irkandji jellyfish mostly live in the coastal waters.
Unlike most other jellyfish species, Irukandji jellyfish possess stingers on its bell. Other jellyfish seem to have stingers on their tentacles and not on their bell. This is probably an adaptation to prey on small fish. Irukandji jellyfish is known to discharge venom from the tips of their tentacles. The sting is likely to cause brain haemorrhages. The Irukandji sting is 100 times potent than that of cobra’s and 1,000 times as powerful as that of tarantula’s sting.
Danger to Humans
While many box jellyfish are completely harmless to humans there are few that are as deadly as the world’s powerful marine stinger. Except for a few, box jellyfish rarely pose any threat to humans. For instance the Chiropsella bart sting only causes moderate pain and itching.
In the Australian waters larger box jellyfish species are dangerous. The Chironex fleckeri sting causes hyperkalemia which means the collapse of the cardiovascular system of human body. As a result the victim dies in less than 5 minutes. Recent findings in Australia show that children have been the primary victim of Chironex fleckeri sting. However many deaths are also caused due to the limited access to medical facilities.
Similarly in Japan Chironex yamaguchi is thought to be the venomous box jellyfish. The jellyfish sting becomes the cause of numerous deaths in Japan. People who fall victim to these species are likely to suffer from extreme psychological symptoms.
Possible Treatments of Box Jellyfish Sting
While vinegar is mostly used to treat the box jellyfish sting people also employ other unscientific methods to counter the effects of venom. These methods include chemicals such as sodium bicarbonate, lemon juice, alcohol, boric acid, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, papaya, steroid cream, and fresh water.
While people generally believe the use of these chemicals literally discourage the further release of venom scientists have yet to confirm it. Other probable treatment is the use of heat packs which discourages the discharge of venom and relieves the victim’s pain. However in case of severe stings such as those caused by Chironex fleckeri, the sting leads to the instant cardiac arrest. Researchers have strongly condemned the use of methylated spirits and vodka (as a jellyfish sting treatment) for they can act as a catalyst.
Long tentacles of venomous box jellyfish sometimes make the victim feel almost immediately. These tentacles are packed with millions of nematocysts which are released into the humans’ flesh along with the venom. It causes a deadly pain. According to the findings of the U.S. National Science Foundation 20 to 40 people die of box jellyfish sting each year in Philippine alone.
The best possible course of action is to take off the tentacles so that the undischarged nematocysts do not inject along with venom. One can use vinegar to rinse off box jellyfish tentacles. The use of vinegar is thought to be the most effective method of preventing undischarged cells but it appears to promote nematocysts that are already fired, more venom. Besides, vinegar seems to confuse the emergency responders. Therefore, the use of vinegar is not recommended by the scientists.