Discussion around avoidance and mitigation of jellyfish stings has traditionally focused on swimmers and divers being mindful of their behavior relative to swimming medusae (pelagic jellyfish). This framework must be restructured with the inclusion of the oblique risk posed by novel autonomous stinging structures like cassiosomes from Cassiopea (a jellyfish genus of the taxonomic order Rhizostomeae). Cassiosomes are released by Cassiopea sp. into subtropical waters that can consequently sting human skin, causing varying degrees of pain and irritation; this trait extends to other rhizostome jellyfish species. Swimmers and waders may put themselves at risk simply by coming into contact with agitated water in the vicinity of Cassiopea medusae, even without touching any part of the jellyfish (medusa, tentacles, or otherwise). Herein, we highlight details provided by 46 researchers and professional aquarists reporting incidents in which they experienced “stinging water” sensations, which we also refer to as “contactless stings”. We report these findings in order to increase the awareness of a public safety hazard the community may be unaware of in their own labs, aquariums, and sampling locations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology