Morning Moon and “Shocking” Surf

Morning Sun shines on the Moon

It’s morning, the sun is shining… and the moon is still hanging around for us to admire. Apparently our evening skylight has decided that being full last week wasn’t enough time in the limelight. I’ve always found it curious when the moon is so visible in the daylight.

Obviously the moon is always there, but it’s not always quite so obvious about it. I wonder what other anomalies accompany months when the moon shares the daylight with the sun. The surf was up, I know that. It still is. Well, on the North and West shores of Oahu it was.

When a Swim is a Shocking Experience

So, where am I going with this and what’s so shocking about daylight moon sightings and high surf?

The jellies! The box jellyfish will be here today or tomorrow. Like clockwork, they will make their appearance, float around, wash up on the beaches and wrap their loving tentacles around unsuspecting swimmers, divers and surfers. Some people say 8-10 days after the full moon while others say 10 to 13. I’m going with 10 just for the sake of simplicity.

Hawaii is one of the very few places, if not the only place, that has this peculiar behavior of mass jelly movement. But, they’ll be flocking into the beaches if they haven’t already. Perhaps we should say constellating since we’re tying it in with the full moon… or maybe we should say “schooling” since they’re more like a school of fish rather than a flock of birds. I like constellating because it’s more visually accurate — the beach will be dotted with them for sure.

Getting away from the pretty bubbles floating on the water is not enough… it’s what’s under the water that’s gonna get you! Although they are toxic and have been known to be deadly, Hawaii has never had a death from these not-so-charming characters. We’ve had illness, pain and maybe even infections, yes, but no deaths.

When I was lucky enough to feel that kind of trauma, it was one of Hawaii’s Portuguese man-of-war that caused the problem. At least with them you can see them coming… they’re the pretty blue bubbles that the unsuspecting swimmer can admire just before they feel the sudden shock of pain. The box jellyfish are clear and under water so you may not see them in time… but you’ll sure feel them if they’re there and you cross their path!

Stinging Jellyfish
Mahalo to “Rob’s Aquatic Moment” at Explore Biodiversity for this wonderful graphic!

All is not lost, swimmers! The lifeguards will post warning signs and they will have remedies ready for tearful victims. Of course, you do need to heed their cautionary statements and the signs they post. If you’re feeling adventurous and in the mood to ignore the warning signs, or if you’re just going to a beach with no lifeguard on duty, be sure you have a bottle of vinegar on hand and a clear knowledge of the closest aid station (fire station or hospital) in case your reaction is more severe than just pain. They also say to use heat but some people say ice. Everyone is different, just see which one works. Personally, I think I would go for the ice.

Certain months bring more squishy visitors than others. Hmmm… with the moon being so cocky and the Northshore having a high surf advisory yesterday morning, maybe the jellies will be out in force! I’ll let you guys know what happens. I’ll listen to the news and we’ll make this our little scientific experiment! Shhhhhhh! We’ll list it as “Homespun Honolulu’s Studies in Biology.” Of course we’ll have to do this more than once to confirm our findings. 🙂 Then someone will just come and beat us up about it. Oh well.

Beware of these little aggressors — they’re not just dumb, floating bubbles. If you’re more than familiar with these characters and are leaning towards shrugging it off, beware of anaphylactic shock. I’ve seen similar, unexpected reactions like this to things like Penicillin and aspirin. “But I wasn’t allergic to it before,” you say.  Well you are now! It can happen so just beware. Don’t let the surf be too shocking!

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Puahawaii // Feb 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    we are lucky on the big island, as the box jelly fish don’t really come our way but ouch the portuguese-man-of-war.

    don’t ignore the warning signs when you see them on the beaches. yes, vinegar helps a lot but allergic reactions are quite common.

    better go to the pool or head for some other vacation adventure on days with jelly fish in the ocean. aloha from the big island, pua

  • 2 Evelyn // Feb 29, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Hey Pua! They’re a definite fascination the way they migrate in their lunar fashion. It’s a good thing that people are aware and the warning signs go up as soon as they’re around!

    It’s even more amazing that they’re gone about as quickly as they show up.

  • 3 CyberCelt // Mar 2, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I just saw a show on the discover channel about these and their little buddies, the ones that kill. I have been to Hawaii, most of the islands, but never had a problem. Jellyfish are why I quite swimming at the beaches in Texas.

  • 4 Evelyn // Mar 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Hi CyberCelt! Thanks for dropping by! I missed that show on Discovery. Yikes! Are they really that dangerous in Texas? I guess we owe our lifeguards even more gratitude for keeping track of this lunar-driven army of stingers!

    I’ve never been stung by them either… only by the Portuguese Man-of-War. It hurt like hell but there was no reaction other than the pain.

    Thanks again, CyberCelt, for visiting and for sharing your comment. I was unaware that Texas had a problem with them. You just have to come visit more often! 🙂

  • 5 Sheila // Mar 3, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The box jellyfish really are an interesting phenomenon.

    On another somewhat unrelated note, I don’t understand why some people continue to lie about their whereabouts. It’s shameful.

  • 6 Evelyn // Mar 3, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    You know, Sheila, there is so much to be discovered on our planet, but the ocean is certainly one of the places that seems to hold the most mystery when it comes to animal behavior. I actually read on one of the biology-related sites that the box jellies are actually aggressive! I was pretty stunned by that.

    I understand the other part of your comment as well. It will only hurt them in the long run.

  • 7 Marie // Mar 8, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Is the Portuguese Man o War same as the Blue Bottle Jelly fish?? Coz I’ve just come from Port Stephens, NSW a few weeks ago and they were having a bad week full of this jellies. I was amazes at how long the tentacles were! And without looking one could easily step onto those thin threadlike stingies.

  • 8 Evelyn // Mar 8, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Hi Marie!

    Thanks for stopping by and for asking that question! I didn’t know it, but yes, that’s exactly what they are. Wikipedia even tells us more about their makeup. Thank you for forcing us into that educational moment!

    You’re absolutely right about the length of those “stingies!” It certainly gives them the advantage — if you see them near to you in the water, even if you think you’re far enough away, you probably are not. Move away towards shore and brace yourself!

  • 9 Anthony // Mar 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    The moon, it turns out, is visible during the day everyday somewhere, but not everywhere. Something I know because I watch too much of what might be called educational programming on cable.

    I love it when the moon shines during the day.

  • 10 Evelyn // Mar 16, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I agree with you, Anthony. There’s something fascinating about seeing it “out” in the daytime. 🙂 Thank you for the comment!

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