The ocean around Oahu is relatively safe in terms of dangers from critters and the like, but there are still a few to be aware of, as well as some cautions worth a word of warning. In this last of our series of blogs on Ocean Safety, we want to offer you tips on what to watch out for and what to do if you get hurt by any of the following…
Portuguese Man of War…this bluish-purple floating bubble w/a long tail can definitely pack a sting, but only one in 1,000 requires any medical attention. If stung, carefully remove any visible tentacle pieces (with stick or gloved hand), rinse with salt or fresh water, and apply ice. Please consult a lifeguard if available to notify of danger and to help if needed.
Box Jellyfish…these transparent, square-shaped jellies tend to appear in cycles, generally coming close to shore 8-10 days after a full moon, but they can be hard to spot! Their sting can be extremely painful, as well as dangerous to people with sensitivity to the toxin. Many beaches, when affected, post signs and since it is so predictable, even the local news/weather channels will often give warnings of beaches to avoid. However, if stung the recommended treatment is to pour vinegar on the sting, do not rub, and, again, carefully pick off any tentacles (w/stick or gloved hand), and always consult a lifeguard if available to notify of danger and for assistance.
Hydroids…less well known, these organisms are generally attached to ropes, rocks, sea grass, and other stationary objects in the water. Yet often, after a storm or high surf, they get torn from their home and float freely in the water. Like jellyfish, they can sting on contact. If stung, rinse well and apply ice, and again, consult a lifeguard for assistance.
There are some sea urchins whose spines are very sharp and can contain toxins. Since they wedge themselves between rocks or coral, you can easily step on one and the spines may cause puncture wounds, or even break off in your foot. They can cause burning, swelling, and discoloration around the area. If you step on an urchin carefully pull out any protruding spines and apply ice. Consult a lifeguard for assistance. Watch for signs of infection.
Cuts and Scrapes
Ocean waves can cause you to fall and cut yourself on the coral or sharp lava rocks found near some beaches. It is important to get out of the water, rinse the wound well, and avoid going back into the ocean with an open wound. Watch for any signs of tenderness, redness, or swelling that may indicate infection. Cuts from a marine environment can quickly become infected from bacteria commonly found in ocean waters.
The Lifeguards at Oahu’s beaches are always ready and willing to help and also want to be informed of any possible ocean dangers such as jellyfish or other beach hazards, and the Lifeguard Association website has additional useful information for beachgoers. Be assured that none of these “critters” in the ocean around Oahu are what we would term dangerous, but please remember that if any wound shows signs of infection you should consult a doctor promptly! We hope your time in the ocean is trouble free, and we hope our ocean safety tips help you to enjoy the beautiful waters around Oahu without mishaps!