Waikiki, Say Aloha to Jellyfish

Landy Blair emerged from the ocean off of Ala Moana Beach Park with pain radiating throughout his body and welts covering his neck, shoulders and back.

The culprit? A swarm of jellyfish that delivered about 20 stings.

“Imagine someone taking a match or cigarette and just putting it on your skin,” Blair said of the sting. “It’s a very sharp burning. It could almost feel like a hot knife, a knife you put on a fire and put on your skin.”

A dousing of vinegar, a scalding hot shower to break down the toxins and a lot of sweating ensued.

It was the late 1980s, and for the mechanical engineer the start of two decades of research on the jellyfish population that he and local scientists say has ballooned in recent years in waters off of the southern coast of Oahu.

A recent, first-ever global study of jellyfish numbers shows that the invertebrates are increasing in the majority of the world's coastal waters, including Hawaii. Japan has been inundated by the giant Nomura jellyfish, which can grow up to six feet in diameter. The gellatinous masses have wreaked havoc on the local fishing industry and a couple of years ago sank a 10-ton fishing trawler, according to numerous news reports. They’ve also shut down nuclear power plants in California, Japan and Denmark. And scientists say they’ve taken over ultra-polluted regions of ocean referred to as dead zones.

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