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Jellyfish Stings Along The Crystal Coast Beaches In Carteret County NC. Are They Common, And How To Treat The Pain?

Are jellyfish stings common along the Crystal Coast beaches and Carteret County communities of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Salter Path and Indian Beach, and Emerald Isle? Do these stings require emergency care? How do you stop the pain? Should you report sightings of jellyfish to beach officials?

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Advisory: If you see a purple flag flying on Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Emerald Isle, or one of the beaches along Indian Beach and Salter Path, it means officials have issued an advisory for numerous jellyfish in the water and swimmers should be aware.

There are species of jellyfish that sting along the NC beaches, and thus the Crystal Coast. During the Labor Day 2018 weekend here on the Crystal Coast, and other places along the NC coast, there was a rash of children being stung prompting beach officials to put out a public advisory. The most common and unfortunately most painful species to look out for is the Portuguese man o’ war that will look like a big bubble that has purple coloring on the top and blue coloring along the tentacles. The tentacles can reach out many feet.

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Should you seek immediate emergency medical care?

Yes. I know that most Doctors, paramedics, and beach officials say no, but what is it going to hurt? Stings from Portuguese man o’ war can cause large red welts, fever and chills, and a very intense burning sensation. The pain associated with the sting can be immediately treated with vinegar after the area is washed off with water.

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And, it’s important to note that dead jellyfish still have their payload in the tentacles even when they are dead.

Anyone treating someone who has had contact with a jellyfish sting needs to remember that tentacles still on the person can affect them too.

In the off chance that your child has some unknown allergy, I think it’s best to get treated by a medical professional. If not at the emergency room, then certainly at one of our local urgent care providers.

Should you notify local beach officials?

Yes. Chances are local beach officials already know about the presence of jellyfish sighting in the area but it does not hurt to report it. One or two encounters may not prompt a response but six or seven will.

Discussions and Comments

Have you or your child every been stung by a Portuguese man o’ war in waters in Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, or Atlantic Beach NC? What was the experience like? What helped to stop the pain and did you seek emergency or urgent care?

What time of the year do you typically see these creatures? Is there anything more you think beach officials can do to bring about awareness and education for those visiting the Crystal Coast and Carteret County?

Did you try vinegar to treat the affected area and did it help?


Files: Labor Day weekend 2018

Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

2 thoughts on “Jellyfish Stings Along The Crystal Coast Beaches In Carteret County NC. Are They Common, And How To Treat The Pain?

  • November 3, 2018 at 7:53 am

    We vacationed along the Crystal Coast in 2018 and there were several instances in your area of children being stung at the beach as I remember. Thank goodness I didn’t encounter any of these jellyfish. How do you know which one’s have the ability to sting?

    How many different species of these creatures exist along the NC coast?

    • November 28, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Hi Carol, yes there we many instances in 2018 where children were stung on Crystal Coast beaches but also at other locations up and down the NC coast. I am not a marine biologist, so I don’t know why this year there were so many. As for how many species along our coast that are capable of stinging, we typically see 1) Cannonball Jelly 2) Lion’s Mane 3) Mushroom Jelly 4) Southern Moon 5) Sea Nettle 6) Sea Wasp and 7) Portuguese Man-of-War.

      We already talked about number 7 as the one you really need to watch out for, but the sea wasp jelly is the most venomous along NC water and the cannonball, lion’s mane, and sea nettle also can sting.


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