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Jellyfish in Italy 2024

As the summer season approaches, Italy's Mediterranean coast is facing an unexpected threat: an influx of jellyfish (Medusa in Italian). These gelatinous creatures may seem harmless, but their sting can be painful and even life-threatening in some cases. Get to know the world of jellyfish in Italy, exploring the most common species, where they're found, how to avoid getting stung, and what to do if you do get stung.

Jellyfish in Italy 2024

Common Jellyfish Species in Italy

Italy's waters are home to over 20 species of jellyfish, but some are more common than others. The two most abundant species are:

Pelagia noctiluca (By-the-Wind Sailor): This species is found throughout the Mediterranean and is known for its translucent bell-shaped body and long, slender tentacles.

Rhopilema esculenta (Asian Jellyfish): Native to Asia, this species has been introduced to European waters and is now found along Italy's coastlines.

The Mauve Stinger (Pelagia noctiluca)

One notorious jellyfish species making headlines is the mauve stinger. Also known as "Pelagia noctiluca", this small jellyfish packs a punch with its long tentacles and potent venom. While rarely life-threatening, its sting is highly unpleasant, leaving beachgoers with searing, sharp pain and welts. Tourists and locals alike have encountered these jellyfish in popular Italian destinations like Positano and Sicily coasts.

Other species found in Italian waters include the Lion's Mane Jellyfish, the Compass Jellyfish, and the Box Jellyfish.

Jellyfish belong to the phylum Cnidaria, a group that includes corals and sea anemones. They lack a brain, heart, or bones, yet their simplicity conceals remarkable adaptations. Over 2,000 jellyfish species exist worldwide, some still unidentified. Their shapes, sizes, and colors vary dramatically.

Bioluminescence: Yes, some jellyfish glow! Their bioluminescent abilities create mesmerizing displays in the dark depths.

The latest statistics about jellyfish in Italy are:

in 2022, According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), the number of jellyfish-related accidents reported in Italy increased by 15% compared to 2021, with a total of 1,343 cases reported. The majority of cases (62%) involved stings from the Pelagia noctiluca species, also known as the "by-the-wind sailor" jellyfish.

The regions most affected by jellyfish stings were Campania, Apulia, and Calabria. A total of 234 people required hospitalization due to jellyfish stings, with 12 cases requiring intensive care.

in 2021 according to the Italian Coast Guard, a record-breaking 3.5 million jellyfish washed up on Italian beaches in 2021, with the majority being Pelagia noctiluca.

The number of jellyfish-related accidents reported in Italy increased by 10% compared to 2020, with a total of 1,169 cases reported. The regions most affected by jellyfish stings were Campania, Apulia, and Sicily. A total of 196 people required hospitalization due to jellyfish stings.

As the summer of 2024 approaches, Italy is bracing for an influx of jellyfish on its Mediterranean coast. The phenomenon is not new, but the sheer number of jellyfish washing up on Italian shores has become a growing concern for beachgoers, fishermen, and local authorities. According to reports from the Italian Coast Guard, an unprecedented number of jellyfish species have been spotted in the waters off the coast of Italy this year. The most common species include the Pelagia noctiluca, also known as the "by-the-wind sailor," and the Rhopilema esculenta, a type of Asian jellyfish that has been expanding its range in recent years.

The invasion of jellyfish is attributed to a combination of factors, including climate change, overfishing, and changes in ocean currents. Warmer waters and increased levels of nutrient pollution have created an ideal environment for jellyfish to thrive. Furthermore, the decline of certain fish species has disrupted the delicate balance of the Mediterranean ecosystem, allowing jellyfish to fill the void.

The impact of the jellyfish invasion is already being felt along Italy's 7,600 kilometers of coastline. Beachgoers are reporting stinging incidents, and local fishermen are struggling to navigate through schools of jellyfish that are clogging their nets and damaging their equipment. In response to the crisis, Italian authorities have implemented measures to mitigate the impact of the jellyfish invasion. Beaches have been closed temporarily in some areas, and coastal towns have set up specialized teams to remove dead and dying jellyfish from the shore. Scientists are also working to study the phenomenon and develop strategies to combat it. Researchers from Italy's National Research Council (CNR) have been conducting studies on the migration patterns and ecological impact of the jellyfish.

avoid jelyfish sting in Italy

Where Jellyfish are found in Italy?

Jellyfish can be found in almost every corner of Italy's Mediterranean coast, from the southern region of Calabria to the northern region of Liguria. However, they tend to congregate in areas with calm waters and warm temperatures, such as Shallow bays and coves, Estuaries and river mouths and in particular Coastal areas with high levels of nutrient pollution. As mentioned, southern Italy, including Sicilia are the regions where it's mpst probably you will encounter jellyfish in Italy.

How to Avoid Getting Stung

While it's impossible to completely avoid jellyfish, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting stung:

Avoid areas with jellyfish: Ask locals or fellow tourists about jellyfish presence, If you see a jellyfish while swimming or surfing, quickly exit the water and avoid touching any areas where jellyfish may be present.

Check beach conditions: Before swimming or surfing, check with local authorities or lifeguards to see if there have been any reports of jellyfish in the area.

Recognize risky conditions, such as strong winds or jellyfish blooms near shores.

Shoes: Wear rubber-soled shoes to avoid stepping on jellyfish tentacles washed ashore1.

Wear protective gear: When swimming or surfing, wear a wetsuit or rash guard to protect your skin from potential stings. A wetsuit provides effective protection against stings

Don't swim at night: Many jellyfish are more active at night, making it more likely that you'll encounter them while swimming.

Avoid Touching: Keep a safe distance to prevent stings.

If you've been stung by a jellyfish, here's what you can do:

1. Get Out of the Water: Move away from the jellyfish to avoid further stings.

2. Rinse with Seawater: Rinse the affected area with seawater to help neutralize the venom. Avoid using freshwater, as it can worsen the sting.

3. Remove Tentacles: Gently remove any tentacles stuck to your skin. Use a pair of tweezers or a your hotel's electronic key card or similar object to gently remove any remaining tentacles from your skin.

4. Apply Vinegar: Apply vinegar to the affected area. It can help neutralize toxins and prevent tentacles from releasing more venom. This 'old trick' doesn't always help as new species of jellyfish are now in Mediterranean waters that are resistant to this measure.

5. Immerse in Hot Water: Soak the sting in hot water (around 104°F or 40°C) for 20-45 minutes. This can provide pain relief and inactivate toxins. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower until the pain eases, which might be 20 to 45 minutes.

6. Apply a topical cream: Apply a topical cream or gel that contains lidocaine or benzocaine to help numb the area and reduce pain.

7. Pain Management: Take pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen if needed.

8. Seek Medical Attention: If the sting is severe, seek medical help. Some jellyfish stings can cause allergic reactions or require professional treatment. If you experience any severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, or numbness/tingling sensations, seek medical attention immediately. In case you're having mild symptoms you can apply to an immediate video-call with an English Speaking doctor at Pyllola Telemedicine. Your situation will be assessed by a qualified doctor who can offer you urgent care by a topical cream or other medications needed. If you know you have allergies to sting and you need your regular anti-allergic medication you didn't bring with you, you can apply for a medications refill.

Individual reactions vary, so always consult a healthcare professional if you're unsure or experiencing severe symptoms.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding jellyfish stings. By taking the necessary precautions and knowing what to do in case of a sting, you can enjoy Italy's beautiful Mediterranean coast without worrying about these gelatinous creatures.


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