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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 34 - January 2006


  1. Bennington, S. Stinging sensation. Blues Planet Quarterly 2005, Spring 8-10.

    Press article about the Portuguese man-of-war stressing that Portuguese military helmets resemble the float of this jellyfish.

  2. Yu H, Liu X, Dong X, Li C, Xing R, Liu S, Li P. Insecticidal activity of proteinous venom from tentacle of jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2005 Nov 15;15(22):4949-52

    Insecticidal activity of proteinous venom from tentacle of jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye was determined against three pest species, Stephanitis pyri Fabriciusa, Aphis medicaginis Koch, and Myzus persicae Sulzer. R. esculentum full proteinous venom had different insecticidal activity against S. pyri Fabriciusa, A. medicaginis Koch, and M. persicae Sulzer. The 48 h LC50 values were 123.1, 581.6, and 716.3 microg/mL, respectively. Of the three pests, R. esculentum full proteinous venom had the most potent toxicity against S. pyri Fabriciusa, and the corrected mortality recorded at 48 h was 97.86%. So, S. pyri Fabriciusa could be a potential target pest of R. esculentum full proteinous venom.

  3. Satterlie RA, Thomas KS, Gray GC. Muscle organization of the cubozoan jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora Conant 1897. Biol Bull. 2005 Oct;209(2):154-63.

    The musculature of the cubomedusa Tripedalia cystophora was investigated using immunohistochemical staining with an anti-actin antibody and histochemical staining with fluorescent phalloidin. The subumbrella is lined with a sheet of circular, striated muscle that is interrupted at the perradii, and by the nerve ring. The sheet is continuous with circular, striated muscle of the velarium, which turns radially on each face of the four velarial frenula. Perradial strips of smooth muscle run radially from just above the level of the rhopalia into the manubrium and lips. The strips give off perpendicular offshoots that run a short distance in parallel with the circular swim muscle. Musculature of the tentacles and pedalia is longitudinal and limited to the oral side of the pedalia. The pedalial muscle connects with bundles of smooth muscle that runs circularly from the tentacle base well into the subumbrella. The arrangement of striated muscle in the frenula suggests that these structures may function in directional nozzle formation of the velarium during turning. In addition, the perpendicular branching of the radial strips and the circular extensions of pedalial muscle may function in hinge formation to aid bending of the pedalia and tentacles into the subumbrella during feeding and protective responses.

  4. Li C, Yu H, Liu S, Xing R, Guo Z, Li P. Factors affecting the protease activity of venom from jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2005 Dec 15;15(24):5370-4.

    In this paper, the effects of some chemical and physical factors such as temperature, pH values, glycerol, and divalent metal cations on the protease activity of venom from jellyfish, Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye, were assayed. Protease activity was dependent on temperature and pH values. Zn(2+), Mg(2+), and Mn(2+) in sodium phosphate buffer (0.02M, pH 8.0) could increase protease activity. Mn(2+) had the best effects among the three metal cations and the effect was about 20 times of that of Zn(2+) or Mg(2+) and its maximal protease activity was 2.3x10(5)U/mL. EDTA could increase protease activity. PMSF had hardly affected protease activity. O-phenanthroline and glycerol played an important part in inhibiting protease activity and their maximal inhibiting rates were 87.5% and 82.1%, respectively

  5. Winkel KD, Tibballs J, Molenaar P, Lambert G, Coles P, Ross-Smith M, Wiltshire C, Fenner PJ, Gershwin LA, Hawdon GM, Wright CE, Angus JA. Cardiovascular actions of the venom from the Irukandji (Carukia barnesi) jellyfish: effects in human, rat and guinea-pig tissues in vitro and in pigs in vitro. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2005 Sep;32(9):777-88.

    This paper investigated the cardiovascular pharmacology of the crude venom extract (CVE) from the potentially lethal, very small carybdeid jellyfish Carukia barnesi, in rat, guinea-pig and human isolated tissues and anaesthetized piglets. 2. In rat and guinea-pig isolated right atria, CVE (0.1-10 microg/mL) caused tachycardia in the presence of atropine (1 micromol/L), a response almost completely abolished by pretreatment with tetrodotoxin (TTX; 0.1 micromol/L). In paced left atria from guinea-pig or rat, CVE (0.1-3 microg/mL) caused a positive inotropic response in the presence of atropine (1 micromol/L). 3. In rat mesenteric small arteries, CVE (0.1-30 microg/mL) caused concentration-dependent contractions that were unaffected by 0.1 micromol/L TTX, 0.3 micromol/L prazosin or 0.1 micromol/L omega-conotoxin GVIA. 4. Neither the rat right atria tachycardic response nor the contraction of rat mesenteric arteries to CVE were affected by the presence of box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) antivenom (92.6 units/mL). 5. In human isolated driven right atrial trabeculae muscle strips, CVE (10 microg/mL) tended to cause an initial fall, followed by a more sustained increase, in contractile force. In the presence of atropine (1 micromol/L), CVE only caused a positive inotropic response. In separate experiments in the presence of propranolol (0.2 micromol/L), the negative inotropic effect of CVE was enhanced, whereas the positive inotropic response was markedly decreased. 6. In anaesthetized piglets, CVE (67 microg/kg, i.v.) caused sustained tachycardia and systemic and pulmonary hypertension. Venous blood samples demonstrated a marked elevation in circulating levels of noradrenaline and adrenaline. 7. The authors conclude that C. barnesi venom may contain a neural sodium channel activator (blocked by TTX) that, in isolated atrial tissue (and in vivo), causes the release of transmitter (and circulating) catecholamines. The venom may also contain a 'direct' vasoconstrictor component. These observations explain, at least in part, the clinical features of the potentially deadly Irukandji syndrome.

  6. Kintner AH, Seymour JE, Edwards SL Variation in lethality and effects of two Australian chirodropid jellyfish venoms in fish. Toxicon. 2005 Nov;46(6):699-708.

    The North Queensland chirodropid box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri and Chiropsalmus sp. share similar nematocyst composition and the same prey of Acetes australis shrimps in their early medusa stages; however, as C. fleckeri individuals reach larger size, the animals add fish to their diet and their complement of nematocyst types changes, allowing larger doses of venom to be delivered to prey. This study demonstrated that the venoms of the two species differ as well: despite similar effects previously documented in crustacean prey models, the two had widely different cardiac and lethal effects in fish, with C. fleckeri being substantially more potent in its ability to cause death. Comparisons between the venom delivery abilities of the two species showed that the change in nematocysts of C. fleckeri cannot alone account for its ontogenetic shift to prey fish; instead, its prey ecology clearly necessitates it having venom capable of acting efficiently to cause death in fish. Although this venom is almost certainly produced at greater metabolic cost to the animal than the less-lethal venom of Chiropsalmus sp., owing to its greater molecular protein complexity, it confers the advantage of increased caloric intake from fish prey, facilitating larger size and potentially greater reproductive output of C. fleckeri over Chiropsalmus sp.

  7. Todd BD, Thornhill DJ, Fitt WK. Patterns of inorganic phosphate uptake in Cassiopea xamachana: A bioindicator species. Mar Pollut Bull. 2005 Nov 8; Epub

    Nutrient levels in the nearshore waters of the Florida Keys have increased over the past few decades concomitant with a decline in the health of Florida's reef system. Phosphorus is a particular concern in the Florida Keys as it may be the limiting nutrient in nearshore waters. The authors demonstrate that the upside-down jellyfish, Cassiopea xamachana, decreases its rate of phosphate uptake following exposure to elevated levels of dissolved inorganic phosphate. The authors also show that this subsequent suppression of uptake rates persists for some time following exposure to elevated phosphates. Using these attributes, experiments investigating the use of C. xamachana as a bioindicator for dissolved inorganic phosphates in seawater. The results show that these animals reveal comparative differences in environmental phosphates despite traditional testing methods yielding no detectable phosphates. The authors propose that C. xamachana is a bioindicator useful for integrating relevant information about phosphate availability in low nutrient environments.

  8. Sanchez-Rodriguez J, Torrens E, Segura-Puertas L. Partial purification and characterization of a novel neurotoxin and three cytolysins from box jellyfish (Carybdea marsupialis) nematocyst venom.

    This paper describes one neurotoxin and three cytolysins isolated from the venom of the Caribbean box jellyfish Carybdea marsupialis. To assess the cytolytic and neurotoxic activity of the nematocyst venom, several bioassays were carried out, and to evaluate the effect of the toxin, the dose causing 50% lethality (LD(50)) was determined in vivo using sea crabs (Ocypode quadrata). The proteins with neurotoxic and cytolytic effects were isolated using low-pressure liquid chromatography. The fraction containing the neurotoxic activity was analyzed by SDS-PAGE and showed a single protein band with an apparent molecular weight of 120 kDa (CmNt). To demonstrate the neurotoxic activity of this protein, a small fraction of the purified protein was injected into a crab, and the typical convulsions, paralysis, and death provoked by neurotoxins were observed. Three fractions containing cytolysins had protein bands in SDS PAGE with apparent molecular weights of 220, 139, and 36 kDa, and their cytolytic activity was confirmed with the haemolysis assay.

  9. Barnett FI, Durrheim DN, Speare R, Muller R. Management of Irukandji syndrome in northern Australia. Rural Remote Health. 2005 Jul-Sep;5(3):369

    Although monitoring and pain management of patients with Irukandji syndrome were generally appropriate, a variety of inappropriate first aid and hypertension management approaches were found. In general, appropriate practice was associated with the presence of guidelines but, unfortunately, guidelines were less often present in remote health facilities. This is particularly important because the majority of respondents who reported no experience of managing Irukandji syndrome were located in more remote settings. There is a need for uniform, evidence-based guidelines, and mechanisms for effective dissemination of these guidelines with training for all health staff who may be required to manage Irukandji syndrome, particularly in remote areas of northern Australia.

  10. Veraldi S, Carrera C. Delayed cutaneous reaction to jellyfish. Int J Dermatol 2000, 30;28-29.

    This patient’s eruption was attributed to jellyfish yet there was no instant pain nor known contact. Therefore the causation of the rash is unknown and this is a syndrome of mysterious causes.

  11. Uri S, Marina G, Liubov G. Severe delayed cutaneous reaction due to Mediterranean jellyfish (Rhopilema nomadica) envenomation. Contact Derm 2005, 52:282-283.

    At the time of original contact the patient had severe local pain but the appearance of the rash was delayed for 2 days.

  12. Giorgdano AR, Vito L, Sardella PH. Complication of a Portuguese man-of-war envenomation to the foot: a case report. J Foot and Ankle Surgery 2005, 44(4):297-300.

    To me this is the first case of cutaneous necrosis induced by vasospasm resulting from a sting on the foot. There have been a handful of case reports on the upper extremity but this is the initial one occurring on the foot in the area of the dorsalis pedis artery. – see below letter 4

  13. Deekajorndech T, Kingwatanakul P, Wanaukul S. Acute renal failure in a child with jellyfish contact dermatitis. J Med Assoc Thai 2004, 87:292-294.

    A 7 year old boy was stung by a blue-purple unknown jellyfish on the left forearm, trunk and thigh at Pattaya, East Thailand while wading. Renal biopsy examination showed acute tubular necrosis, oliguria and dark urine. The glomeruli were normal and did not contain immunoglobulin. Hemoglobin but not myoglobulin, was found in the glomeruli. The patient started to recover 8 days later.

  14. Currie BJ, Jacups SP. Prospective study of Chironex fleckeri and other box jellyfish stings in the “Top End” of Australia’s Northern Territory. MJA 2005, 183:631-636.

    Most C. fleckeri stings are not life-threatening; patients who die usually have cardiopulmonary arrest within minutes of the sting. The potential benefit of antivenom and magnesium under these circumstances remains to be shown, but a protocol with their rapid use is recommended if cardiopulmonary arrest has occurred. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic for many rural coastal locations, and the priority remains prevention of stings by keeping people, especially children, out of the sea during the stinger season.

  15. Gershwin LA. Carybdea alata auct. And Manokia stiasnyi, reclassification to a new family with description of a new genus and two new species. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 2005, 51(2):501-523.

    The species recognition criteria have been confused for cubomedusae, leading to underestimates of biodiversity and nomenclatural errors in the group. At least nine different species have been described with crescentic gastric phacellae, T-shaped rhopaliar niche ostia, and/or 3 velarial canals per octant; all were subsequently included in the synonymy of the oldest name Carybdea alata, which lacks both a type specimen and an unambiguous identity. To stabilize the nomenclature of the group, the new genus Altina is proposed based on a common form for which type material and DNA sequences are available. Two species from northern Australia are described for the genus. The other nine species previously associated with the name Carybdea alata are reevaluated and determinations are made as to their validity. The validity of another species, Manokia stiasnyi, has been questioned, and was not previously appreciated as belonging to this morphogroup. Reexamination of the holotype confirms that the taxon is distinct, and allied to Altina; a redescription is provided. A new family, Alatinidae, is proposed to accommodate Altina and Manokia. The family Carybdeidae and the genus Carybdea are redefined.

  16. Kavanau JL. Is sleep's 'supreme mystery' unraveling? An evolutionary analysis of sleep encounters no mystery; nor does life's earliest sleep, recently discovered in jellyfish. Med Hypotheses. 2006, 66(1):3-9.

    Biotelemetry has revealed daily 15-h behavioral sleep periods in a cubomedusan jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri. Its sleep is expected to be phylogenetically most primitive, since jellyfish possess only two germ layers. They belong to the phylum Cnidaria, the 'simplest' multicellular organisms with an organized nervous system. Cubomedusae have a complex visual system with 24 eyes of four different types, each type specialized for a different task. Input to these eyes during visually guided fast-swimming predation requires enormous amounts of neural processing, possibly nearly saturating the capacity of their comparatively simple nervous system. These heavy neural demands may account for the need for fifteen hours of sleep. C. fleckeri is the only animal known for which sleep may be either present or absent, dependent on lifestyle. Limited knowledge of behavior of some other cubomedusae suggests that they also possess this faculty. The finding of sleep in C. fleckeri supports current proposals of sleep's origin and basic function. Evolutionary analyses link sleep to a conflict produced by excessive processing demands on multifunctional neural circuitry for detailed focal vision by complex lensed eyes. The conflict arises between the enormous demands of complex visual analysis and needs for split-second control of actions, on the one hand, and non-urgent processing of memories of ongoing and stored events, on the other. Conflict is resolved by deferring the non-urgent processing to periods of sleep. Without sleep, selection would favor the evolution of circuitry 'dedicated' to single or but few tasks, with corresponding lesser efficiency. Had complex lensed eyes of medusae originated as a consequence of selection for increased mating success of males pursuing females, it could have occurred before the evolution of fast-swimming bilateral (three-germ-layered) prey. But if it was a consequence of selection for increased prey-hunting success, the origin of such eyes probably awaited the coexistence of bilateral prey.

  17. Cornelius PFS, Fenner PJ, Hore R. Chiropsalmus maculatus sp. nov., a cubomedusa from the Great Barrier Reef. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 2005, 51(2):399-405.

    A large cubomedusa, Chiropsalmus maculatus sp. nov., is described from the only known specimen, observed and collected live near the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. It is distinctive in lacking a ‘palm’ to what is a palmate, compound pedalium in other known chirodropids, and in having conspicuous, deeply corrugated subumbrellar muscle-fields. It is unique among known cubomedusae in having a pigmented exumbrellar epidermis. Much of the surface was covered in life by more than 40 discrete, sub-circular, patches of color, and the base of each pedalium was encircled by a fine line of pigment. Some of the patches were arranged in a loose pattern, and there was a regular circle of unpigmented epidermis surrounding each rhopalium, both suggesting strongly that the coloration was genotypic and not due to a pathogen or other cause external to the animal.

Letters to the Editor 

  1. Oiso N, Fukai K, Ishii M, Okita K, Kubota S. Systemic reaction associated with Iramo scyphopolyp, Stephanoscyphus racemosum Komai. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 2004, 29:681-682.

    The 41 year old male was stung on the right cubital fossa by the Iramo scyphopolyp and developed a local painful erythemato-vesicular eruption within 10 min. The vesicles coalesced into bulla, one of which was painful and hemorrhagic. He developed 390C fever for 3 days and the skin cleared within one week.

  2. Burnett JW. Lack of efficacy of a combination sunblock and “Jellyfish Sting Inhibitor” topical preparation against Physalia physalis. Dermatitis 2005, 8 (3), 151.

    The combination sunscreen-topical anti skin preventive preparation was ineffective against a 6 second topical application of Physalia physalis tentacle to both volar forearms of a volunteer. The deep pain lasted 6 hours but the rash, piloerection and local sweating disappeared after 5 hours.

  3. Dagregoria G, Giullet G. Delayed dermal hypersensitivity reaction to coral. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005, 52:534-535.

    A 55 year old female had minor pruritic contact of her knee to corals 16 days prior to developing a network of linear erythematous lesions.

  4. Burnett JW. Jellyfish foot injury – vasospasm. J Foot and Ankle Surgery 2005, 45:58.

    I comment that the case above in Paper 12 was really caused by vasospasm and should have been treated with thrombolytic agents initially. The authors had recommended that local heat administered at the time would have aided the patient. I replied that even then local heat doesn’t inactivate all the critical toxin damage since the patient had had extreme pan at the time of the sting.


  1. Abby Hines ( of North Carolina reports that her 15 year old daughter was stung off Ocean Isle N.C. 3 years ago and has had relatively increased pruritus in that area whenever she had developed a case of hives.

  2. Junaid Alam – No Physalia in the Karachi beaches (due to big oil May 2003 spill). As yet there were only a few aggregations of Physalia in 2004.

  3. Faisal Radwan notes that the March 8, 2005 issue of Planet Ark world environment news communication a report of man-o-war jellyfish swarms on Spanish Mediterranean beaches this 2005 season. In northeast Catalina over 11,000 people were treated for stings, almost twice the prior years incidence. In early November an oceanic swim was canceled. The ocean was slightly warmer and the population of predating large fish and turtles appears to be lower. Thus the problem of swarms seems to be present in the Azores also. See Newspapers below

  4. Peter Hoffman, an Australian ophthalmologist working in Jerusalem mentions a case of neuroretinitis in an 18 year old female stung last July in the Mediterranean on her forearm by an unknown jellyfish. She developed malaise, weakness, fever and an arm eruption which later depigmented. She complained of vision loss in the right eye. Serological assays for the microbial causes of this syndrome were negative. A slow recovery which is almost complete followed steroid and doxycycline therapy and time.

  5. Dr. Gergely Nagy of the University of Debreum reports the case of a young male stung in November, 2003 while diving in the Red Sea who developed a severe papulovesicular eruption in all uncovered areas a few hours after leaving the water. He felt feverish and sick for a few days. No animal was seen. In January, 2005 three members of a family who swam at Hurghada, Egypt in the Red Sea. They also noticed no animals but a coral reef nearby. The lesions healed leaving a hypopigmented macule in 3 weeks. I had Faisal Radwan review this letter and he could only offer insects, fire coral or the upside down Cassiopea andromeda. The latter is a possibility which could be missed by bathers.

  6. Dr. Lisa-Ann Gershwin writes that a 6 year old boy was painfully stung on the arm by Carukia barnesi near Townsville, Qld, Australia late in 2005. He did not develop Irukandji syndrome. This could mean that the skin pain and wheal are transmitted by factors different from those which produce the syndrome. A lesser possibility was that the jellyfish was some other species.

  7. Peter Fenner says that Lisa-Ann Gershwins’ PhD thesis contains a note that Carukia appears in abundance on the 10th day after a full moon as do the Hawaiian Carybdeids.

  8. The US Navy had 24 cases of Irukandji syndrome caused by a jellyfish in January of 2004. Not all the cases were nocturnal (2/3) and most occurred in the later summer. These occurred in Key West – note #9 below

  9. Ramon Mira de Orduna of Guelph, Ontario was stung in the late morning of Christmas Day, 2004 off Arrajo Bermejo in Northern Cuba about 90-100 miles south of Key West, Fla. Across the Florida Strait. This was 10 days after the full moon. He developed an Irunkandji syndrome. He cannot accurately name the species but it could be Carybdea alata – see above paper 15

  10. The Australian Press reports a Chironex venom induced death in a 7 year old girl at Umajico Beach near Bamaga on Endeavor Strait in very northern Cape York on January 8, 2006. She died within 1 ¼ hour of stings to the chest and legs.

  11. There is a debate about whether the red and white phases of Chrysaora quinquecirrha are separate species. We showed (Toxicon 16:679-682, 1978) that the white phase was more painful in mouse writhing experiments. Keitha Bayha, in his PhD dissertation thinks that the red and white phases in some cases were genetically identical and in some they were not. Iekhsan Othman and his group couldn’t find differences between the two when measuring venoms and looking at nematocyst structures. Lisa-Ann Gershwin has a feeling that the red and white are distinctive as does Dale Calder in Toronto.

  12. Henrok Kjaer, a PhD student at Odense University Hospital in Denmark thinks he has a patient stung by Aurelia aurita who exhibited some IgE type 1 immunological reactions.

  13. Mike Finucane reports that a Rhizostome (1 ½ ft bell diameter) washed up in great numbers near Wexford Ireland this past fall.


  1. Times on line, December 7, 2005 (London). Parry, Richard Lloyd – Swarms of Stomolphus nomurai washed up near Echizen in the Sea of Japan. These animals, 6 ft. wide weighing 450 lbs. have appeared in vast armadas in the past few months. Fishery officials from Japan, China and South Korea will meet in a “jellyfish” summit to discuss control.

    These armadas break nets, crush fish and poison or besmear them with tentacle mass. The animal density is estimated at 100 fold normal. Warmer water temperatures or heavy rainfall in China has thought to be the cause.

    On August 11, 2005, Edward Owen cites swarms of Pelagia noctiluca off eastern Spanish beaches from Costa brava to Costa del Sol. Around Mar Mener armadas of Catylorhiza tuberulata were present this year. See correspondence 3

    On July 23, 2005, Valerie Elliott alerted about Cynea capillata present in record numbers in northern Scotland (Caithness to the Orkneys). In previous years these medusa were seen in Northumbria down to East Anglia. Other experts found them in mid western England near Cumbria and the Isle of Mar.