The best thing you can do in Malta is swim. It is the ultimate activity for people who visit during the summer months. Going to the beach or on a boat while in Malta will usually involve two major obstacles which you need to prevent to have the best possible time; the scorching heat of the sun and the possibility of spotting some stingy jellyfish. For the sun, you can wear a hat and put on a bucket-load of sun screen. For jellyfish, you need to know some tricks on how to void them. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to swim your way around these weird looking creatures.
Jellyfish which are found in the Maltese waters
Not all jellyfish stings burns in the same way. They look and, well, as you might realise, feel different. Here’s a look at the most common ones in Maltese waters:
The Mauve stinger
The mauve stinger has a strong, nasty sting and, yes, touching its tentacles can be quite painful. The reason why it loves to swim in the Mediterranean is because it loves warm waters and they instinctively swim their way to it. Some people who did get this sting have reported allergic reactions and a sting mark that can take some time to heal, so be careful. At least, on the plus side, they are relatively easy to spot.
Portuguese man o’ war
Known as one of the big stingers, the Portuguese man o’war is technically speaking not a jellyfish, but a siphonophore which is an animal made up of organisms working together. It will not produce a fatal sting but you will definitely feel it.
Like other jellyfish, this little organism may still sting after it dies. So if you see one washed up a beach, do not touch it!
The moon jellyfish is easily recognizable. It has a distinctive blue colour and a nice pattern within it. The sting is considered as not too painful as the venom is less powerful then its peers.
Fried Egg or Egg-Yolk
The Fried Egg Jellyfish, sometimes also called Egg-Yolk Jellies, (and in Malta is sometimes referred to as il-Qassats) are yellow jellyfish that have a smooth translucent bell that has an interesting and distinctive bell in the middle. This is what gives this jellyfish their name, as it looks like egg yolk floating through the water. Good thing about it, it does not sting at all. You can touch it with no remorse! You will meet this type of jellyfish mostly from the end of summer and during autumn.
Interesting things to know about jellyfish
- Jellyfish don’t swim: They live in the sea but strangely enough they can’t swim. What they do however, is make pulsating movements to control their direction. Therefore, if you actually touch and get stung by one, it probably means you swam towards it, not the other way round.
- Move in groups: Ever went to swim and realised that the beach is littered with hundreds of jellyfish on the sand? Usually when you see one, it will not be on its own. They are dragged around together with the same current, usually determined by the direction of the wind.
- Jellyfish are on the increase: Indeed, these stingy creatures will not be gone anytime soon, and as the years pass, the higher the probability you’ll see one. The world is getting warmer plus the decrease of their number one predator, the sea turtle, are factors which contribute to this increase.
- Not all of them sting: Out of the some 200 known jellyfish species, only a small percentage actually sting. The sting comes from venom in the tentacles and can vary from mild to severe. But most jellyfish actually do not sting at all.
- The deadliest of them all: It is not found in the Mediterranean, so for the purpose of this article, you shouldn’t worry. But just for you to know, the most dangerous jellyfish there is, the Australian Box Jellyfish. The largest one on the species can have tentacles reaching up to 10 feet long.
What to do if you get stung
There are a couple of things you can do if you actually do get stung by a jellyfish in Malta. Here are the most popular remedies:
- Rinse the area with salt water for five or ten minutes. Do not use fresh or hot water, not even ice because it will make things worse.
- Try scrap the edge of the skin with a hard and lined object, usually a credit card will do the trick.
- Apply vinegar or alcohol on the area to prevent release of toxins.
- If you see a reaction, perhaps the result of an unknown allergy, go see the doctor. You might need some antibiotics.
- Also seek medical attention if you are stung in the face, the area is swollen or you are having difficulty breathing.