Jellyfish on the beaches of Malaga? What to do and what to avoid

Jellyfish on the beaches of Malaga? Unfortunately, in recent years on the Mediterranean coast there has been an increase in the multiplication of jellyfish as a result of a variety of human activities, representing a growing threat to recreational activities and water sports.

What to do and what to avoid when there are jellyfish on Malaga beaches

Here you find everything you need to know to deal with these unappreciated visitors on the Costa del Sol.

Why do jellyfish appear on the beaches of Malaga?

Jellyfish appear on the beaches of Malaga for several reasons. The fact that there has been a significant increase in the number of jellyfish swarms in recent years is due to the increase in water temperature.

jellyfish malaga
Boy observing a jellyfish

These swarms of jellyfish normally live offshore, but they are dragged by the tides and the wind. This means that on Levante days (the wind blows from the southeast) in Malaga, there is a higher probability of jellyfish appearing on the beaches.

When a swarm of jellyfish appears on the beaches of Malaga, there is usually a great commotion and people rush to catch these animals.

Knowing the “enemy”

A jellyfish sting can be pretty unpleasant. The Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish (Purple jellyfish) in particular can be seen on the Malaga coast.

They are very small (a few centimetres), purple-pink and semi-transparent, which makes it very difficult to see them in the water.

small jellyfish
Pelagia noctiluca

They don´t “attack” swimmers, but are carried by sea currents and are quite easy to avoid, as long as there aren´t too many.

What should I do if there are jellyfish on the beach?

Stay calm: Jellyfish are not interested in stinging us, because if they do sting, they lose part of their tentacles. Stay calm and don’t panic.

It is important to know that jellyfish “do not swim”, but are dragged by currents. In other words, they will not come after you with the intention of stinging you.

jellyfish malaga
The upper part of the jellyfish does not sting, only the tentacles.

You have to swim very gently, moving away from it very slowly and trying to avoid it, and nothing should happen.

If you swim faster with violent movements, you´ll attract its thin tentacles towards your body and get stung. Almost fifty percent of jellyfish stings are produced by panic.

If you get really close and can´t avoid it, we recommend placing the palm of the hand in the most jellied part, the umbrella; push it very slowly sidewards. The tentacles will follow this movement and won´t sting you.

red flag in a beach
The green flag means bathing is safe, the yellow flag advise of bathing with great caution, the red flag means bathing is not safe.

In urban beaches all along the coast of Malaga  flags indicate the status of the sea and the presence of jellyfish. The green flag means free bathing, the yellow flag allows bathing with great caution. The red flag indicates the prohibition of bathing.

In these areas there are also usually lifeguard stations if you have been stung by a jellyfish.

jellyfish malaga
Lifeguards attending to a jellyfish sting in Malaga. Photo DiarioSur

Some useful tips

The frequent application of sunscreen is not only useful against sunlight, but is also quite effective insulating from the tentacles of jellyfish. Do not touch dead jellyfish or fragments of them, as their stinging power lasts up to 24 hours, even out of water.

What to do if a jellyfish stings you?

  • Do not scratch or rub the affected area.
  • Wash the area with seawater.
  • Remove the remains with tweezers or gloves.
  • Apply cold to relieve pain. When ice is used, it should not come into direct contact with the skin.
    If the pain is severe, seek medical attention.
  • Many locals often carry a small bottle with vinegar or ammonia in their beach bag as a means of first aid.
    You can also buy handy applicators (especially useful for children) in pharmacies. Or you go to the nearest aid station.

Symptoms of a jellyfish sting

Typical symptoms of a jellyfish sting are hives on the skin accompanied by pain and itching. After an hour it usually becomes less intense.

If the pain and discomfort persist, you should consult a medical centre to prevent anaphylactic shock. Some people may suffer this allergic reaction to the tentacle toxin and this can be very dangerous.

However, in general, although a jellyfish sting is uncomfortable and painful, it is not dangerous.

How long does a jellyfish sting last?

The acute symptoms of pain and stinging can last 1 to 2 hours. The itching, on the other hand, can last up to a week.

How to treat jellyfish sting days after the sting?

Depending on the condition of the affected skin, you can apply a cream with antihistamines and corticoids to alleviate itching and inflammation.

Often it is not necessary to do anything, just moisturise the skin well and that’s it. Try not to scratch.

It is important to protect the affected area from direct sunlight for a few days.

How to know if there are jellyfish on the beach?

Aula del Mar in Málaga has developed a useful “jellyfish watch” application that provides an update on the state of the beaches of Málaga.

You can download it here.

Although the app is only available in Spanish so far, it at least offers a quick update on the current state of Málaga’s beaches.
beach status app for Malaga

Everything you need to know about Rip currents – very important!

Jellyfish on beaches often cause a lot of commotion and can ruin an afternoon’s swimming.

But rip currents can be very dangerous. Especially when it comes to inexperienced swimmers and when they panic. Unfortunately, no summer goes by on the Costa del Sol without fatalities.

Rip currents Malaga
Rip currents are the main cause of drowning in Malaga.

Because every current obeys certain laws. If we know how to act when we get caught in a rip current, it can literally save our lives.

Take the time to familiarise yourself with everything you need to know about Rip currents – the unknown danger for bathers.

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