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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 21, 2006

Jellyfish invade O'ahu beaches

By Robert Shikina and Brittany Yap
Advertiser Staff Writers

O'ahu beachgoers suffered yesterday through the third-largest box jellyfish influx in the past nine years.

The Ocean Safety Division staff closed Hanauma Bay at 11 a.m. At Waikiki Beach, staff treated 253 jellyfish stings by 1:30 p.m. The staff issued a box jellyfish advisory to local hotels warning their visitors to be cautious in the water yesterday and today. Lifeguards will walk Hanauma Bay starting at 7 a.m. today to see if they can open the beach.

Officials said the influx concentrated mostly in Waikiki, but also affected people in Ko Olina and around the island.

"It wouldn't be a good idea to come down to the beach (yesterday) because of the box jellyfish influx," said Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for Honolulu Emergency Services.

Lifeguards in Waikiki yesterday counted more than 1,000 jellyfish along the shores.

Jellyfish have floated into Waikiki in greater numbers only twice since 1997. On March 15, 2004, ocean safety staff counted more than 1,200 jellyfish on the beach, and on July 15, 2001, staff found more than 1,700 beached jellyfish.

Officials closed Hanauma Bay yesterday after 14 box jellyfish stings were reported within an hour.

Paramedics transported four people to the hospital for allergic reactions to the stings, Cheplic said.

A 4-year-old girl who was stung at Lagoon 4 in Ko Olina was transported to St. Francis West at 11:15 a.m. as a precautionary measure, Cheplic said. The three other transports were from Waikiki.

"There was a substantial amount" of stings in Waikiki yesterday morning, Cheplic said. "We can't close Waikiki Beach, but we did put up signs."

According to Cheplic, Hanauma Bay was closed because officials could lock the entrance gate to keep people from going to the bay, but that's not the case for Waikiki.

Waikiki Beach is the most commonly affected area, especially in the "pond" areas that are 'ewa of the Kapahulu groin.

Other near-shore waters that have been affected include Poka'i Bay, Makaha Surfing Beach, and Waimea bay. There also have been occasional sightings and stings on other North and West shore beaches.

The Ocean Safety Division advises anyone stung by a jellyfish to flush the area that was stung with copious amounts of white vinegar. Anyone experiencing breathing difficulty, muscle cramps, spasms and/or persistent pain are advised to seek immediate medical attention.

Lifeguard stations are equipped to treat this type of marine sting.

For more information on ocean conditions, advisories, and warnings, the Ocean Safety Division provides a prerecorded report 24 hours a day at 922-3888, ext. 51.

Reach Robert Shikina at rshikina@honoluluadvertiser.com and Brittany Yap at byap@honoluluadvertiser.com.