Swimmers stung by Bluebottles on Patong Beach

PHOTOS: Lucky / Patong Lifeguard / Newshawk Phuket

Today, tourists have been stung by jellyfish at Patong beach. Lifeguards provided quick first aid. The tourists described the stings as painful but that the treatment provided relief very quickly. First aid providers said the stings were not dangerous in this case.

Attending lifeguards advised that the ‘jellyfish’ were likely the Portuguese Man-o-war (Physalia physalis), also known as Bluebottles (due to their bright blue colour). Rather than being a single jellyfish, the Bluebottle is a siphonophore, a colony of smaller organisms. Lifeguards also reminded swimmers that jellyfish don’t ‘attack’ people as they have little control of where they swim or float and are largely navigated by light, tides and waves.

‘”People just swim into ‘jellyfish’, or in this case, Bluebottles, that have been broken up by wave action but continue to float around with their stinger intact.”

The Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis), also known as the man-of-war or Bluebottle, is a marine hydrozoan of the famil ‘Physaliidae’ found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its long tentacles deliver a painful sting, which is venomous and powerful enough to kill fish or, rarely, humans. Despite its appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a true jellyfish but a siphonophore, which is not actually a single multi cellular organism (true jellyfish are a single organism), but a colonial organism made up of specialised individual animals (of the same species) called zooidsor polyps. These polyps are attached to one another and physiologically integrated, to the extent that they cannot survive independently, creating a symbiotic relationship, requiring each polyp to work together and function like an individual animal.

The Indo-Pacific Portuguese man-of-war(P. utriculus), or bluebottle, is a related species with very similar appearance found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Treatment for Bluebottle stings can vary a bit from the traditional jellyfish stings. Here’s some recommended treatment for a Bluebottle sting HERE.

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