Tuesday, 27 September 2022

New jellyfish warning for Phuket and southern beaches

01 Dec 2016

Travellers and locals have been warned to be vigilant when swimming or snorkelling in southern Thailand after Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish and Box-Jellyfish were found in the area, probably washed ashore by recent storms.

Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish, photo from www.thetimes.co.uk

Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish, photo from www.thetimes.co.uk

Officials at the Sirinath National Park have taken steps to keep swimmers safe by closing Nai Thon, Nai Yang and Layan Beaches Phi Phi lsland. Other beach resorts in the area have posted notices to warn of the dangers of jellyfish and have set up first aid stations to deal with anyone who might have been stung.

While there have been no reports of any stings by Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish in Thailand, officials are taking every precaution as the venom of these creatures can cause severe pain, or worse if the victim suffers an allergic reaction.

During the monsoon season, rain wind and storms can often bring jellyfish and other unexpected marine creatures closer to the shore. Thailand’s lifeguards are always on the lookout and have stepped up beach patrols in light of the recent discoveries.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is asking tourists to be extra careful, to remain aware and not take any risks by entering waters where signs have been posted.

Where jellyfish have been seen. The initial sightings of Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish were on Phuket and as a result, Nai Thon and Nai Yang beaches have been closed. There also more recent sightings of the jellyfish around the island of Phi Phi and some have washed up in the island’s Maya Bay. The Authorities on Phi Phi have asked tourists to refrain from swimming and bathing there to avoid being stung.

Marine biologists’ advice to swimmers is to:

  • Look all around when in the water and try to swim with a partner. A sting can sometimes immobilise a person, making it difficult to swim to shore.
  • Consider wearing protective swimwear like a rash guard or swimming shoes.
  • Beware of seemingly dead jellyfish on the beach. If they were recently beached, they can still give a painful sting.

If you or any other bathers make contact with the stingers of a jellyfish, your first priority is to stay calm and to try to follow these steps:

Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish

  • Take the injured from the sea and make them stay still in order to reduce the spread of poison.
  • Do not wash or scrub the affected area with water or suntan creams, as this will merely aggravate the sting.
  • Treatment should be started by pouring salt water over the affected area to remove the microscopic stingers that may not yet have been activated. Do not rub or touch the wound at this point. Do not use vinegar or water, which tends to increase the toxin delivery and worsens the symptoms of the stings from the nematocysts of this species. Then go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

 Box-Jellyfish or other species of jellyfish

  • Take the injured from the sea and make them stay still in order to reduce the spread of poison.
  • Do not wash or scrub the affected area with water or suntan creams, as this will merely aggravate the sting.
  • Liberally apply vinegar to the affected area to reduce the toxic response. Hotels, beach restaurants and diving outfits around Thailand have been ordered to keep bottles of vinegar easily accessible as part of their First Aid preparation.
  • Goat’s Foot Creeper or Beach Morning Glory, which only relieves the pain, should be applied after using vinegar.
  • Use sand to cover the sting area and dry out any remaining tentacles.
  • In case the heart stops beating and there is no pulse, CPR should be primarily carried out on the victim.
  • Always seek out medical care if experiencing any ongoing symptoms.
Box-Jellyfish, photo from www.huffingtonpost.com

Box-Jellyfish, photo from www.huffingtonpost.com


Several species of jellyfish, mostly harmless, can be found seasonally in Thailand though the more dangerous Box- Jellyfish lives in the waters off the beaches of Ko Lanta and Hat Nopparatthara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Marine Park off Krabi province, and Nam Bo Bay in Phuket province.

Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish are not native to the waters around Thailand, and it is extremely rare for swimmers and divers in Thailand to be stung. However, tourists, particularly in the south of the country planning to bathe or to go diving must be aware that there is a danger that jellyfish may be present. So do not swim if you can see warning signs have been posted and be sure to know where the nearest First Aid centre is, before you enter the water.