Jellyfish put sting into holiday weekend for more than 800 people on Florida beaches

May 31st, 2011 by Staff — More than 800 people have been stung by swarms of purple jellyfish that washed up on Florida beaches over the Memorial Day weekend.

Legions of the jellyfish called mauve stingers washed ashore from the Atlantic along the coast from Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral, according to Brevard County Ocean Rescue Assistant Chief Eisen Witcher.

He said more than 200 people suffered stings to their legs, arms and torsos on Saturday with another 200 more stings on Sunday.

Officials said that they believe consistent east winds and an east swell are causing the jellyfish to wash up.

The reddish-coloured jellyfish have purple barbs that sting.

Lifeguards offered victims sprays of vinegar to neutralise the stinging cells.

Mr Witcher recommended that swimmers apply Benadryl to itching or painful welts.

The vinegar neutralizes the jellyfish sting, which is much like the sting of a bee, but the jellyfish aren’t the only dangers in the water.

Moderate rip currents and waves as high as six feet were reported on the coast.

On Sunday, rescue crews had to pull a swimmer in trouble out of the water north of the Inlet.

Connor Cosmas, a beach visitor, who was one of the few who braved the choppy waters, said: ‘You could feel a little bit of a rip current, but it wasn’t a super bad day.’

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