Experts squash killer jellyfish rumor [pg. 5]

By ALIZA APPELBAUM, SARINA ROSENBERG
June 22, 2006 00:42
1 minute read.

 
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A wave of rumors that deadly jellyfish will terrorize Israeli beachgoers this summer is a wash, said Dr. Bella Galil, of the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research. Jellyfish have been visiting Israel's beaches for the last 20 years. Although they have a painful sting, they are not lethal, said Galil. Dismissing the rumors of a deady species arriving as "conjecture," Galil said, "We should not invent horror stories. We don't need to frighten ourselves with phantom dangers." The jellyfish found in the Mediterranean near Israel's shores migrate from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal before continuing northward to Lebanon. This year's unusually large swarm arrived early, but is no more dangerous than in previous years, Galil assured. Zoologist Prof. Ehud Spanier, a jellyfish expert and director of the University of Haifa's Institute of Maritime Studies and chairman of the Department of Maritime Civilization, said he was bombarded with phone calls Wednesday about the deadly jellyfish. Even though there are killer jellyfish in other parts of the world, Spanier said, the "possibility is very low" that Israelis are at risk. The sting of the non-lethal variety of jellyfish causes minor burns, which tend to go away within the hour as long as they are treated correctly. Natan Kudinsky, head of the training department for Magen David Adom, advised beachgoers to stay away from jellyfish both onshore and in the water. Sting victims should clean the affected area with five percent vinegar or with sand and salt water to neutralize the alkaloid in the stinging cells. People that are allergic to jellyfish stings and experience extreme redness and difficulty breathing should call 101 for immediate medical attention.

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