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Habu Kurage (Habu Jellyfish)

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-07-30

To date, nearly 90 injuries caused by poisonous sea creatures has been reported to Okinawa Prefecture Welfare and Health Department. More than half of the cases are caused by Stinger Jellyfish, or ‘Habu Kurage’ in Japanese.

From May through September every year, many injuries by Stinger Jellyfish are reported at the beaches throughout Okinawa. Last year alone, over 150 people, from infants to adults, were stung by the jellyfish and of those one person died.

As its Japanese name, "Habu", indicates, the jellyfish have poisonous tentacles. With its semitransparent jelly-like body, it is difficult to distinguish in the water.

Once touched by a tentacle, the victim feels a sharp pain, and the affected area swells. In a serious case, the injured goes into shock followed by seizure of the respiratory and circular systems stop. When stung by jellyfish, following first aid steps should be taken immediately.

1. Get out of the water immediately

2. Do not rub the affected area.

3. Apply vinegar to the affected ares (do not use the fresh water) and remove any pieces of tentacles from the skin.

4. Cool off with ice or cold water and seek the medical attention at the hospital.

5. If the victim stops breathing, CPR is necessary.

At the Sunset Beach in Chatan, 10 children stung by Stinger Jellyfish on July 18. Since then, officials have installed a protective net around the swimming area. Also vinegar and medicinal herbs are stored at the beach office. However, separated jellyfish tentacles sometimes drift into the protected area.

It is imperative to apply first aid as soon as possible in case of being stung, and it's strongly recommended to bring vinegar with you whenever you go to the beaches until September, when the temperature drops to under twenty nine degrees centigrade. If you bring your children, supervise them while they're in the water.

"There are still some people who don’t know how dangerous they are. At this time of the year, swimmers should be on alert scrupulously," Akira Shirado, the chief lifeguard at Sunset Beach warned.

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