Thursday, March 11, 2010

Box Jellyfish Existence In the Sea of Langkawi?

Secret is secret. Even the nearby eatery shops were not aware of it. Or were they told to hush-hush about this?

No matter how well a secret is kept, the internet distribution is more powerful. It is very sad that someone had to die in her vacation here and yet, was there any action taken to warn the public and to be vigilant? How many of such incident went unreported? This would probably serves as a wake-up call to the authorities.
This picture was taken from National Geographic on Box Jellyfish

This is the news taken from Local Sweden's News in English:

A 45-year-old woman from SmÃ¥land in southern Sweden has been killed by a jellyfish while on holiday in Malaysia, writes the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The incident occurred in the beach resort of Pantai CenangLangkawi in January when the woman opted to take an evening dip together with her family.

"It took five-six seconds, then she fell unconscious," her husband told the newspaper.

Despite several attempts by relatives and ambulance personnel to revive the woman, she never regained consciousness.

According to 
Swedish marine biologist Lars Henroth, the woman was probably stung by a so-called box jellyfish, named for their cube-shaped medusae. It is a small, transparent creature which is known to carry a deadly sting.

"A heart attack is the most common reason for death when you are stung. It often occurs swiftly."

According to the marine biology centre in nearby 
Phuket the box jellyfish has become more common in recent years in the waters off Malaysia and Thailand - popular winter destinations for hordes of Swedish tourists.

The centre issued an official warning last winter when an unusual number of the deadly jellyfish were found off the coast.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson

This is my first time knowing the existence of box jellyfish in Langkawi. I yet to come across any documentation on box jellyfish sightings here. I had only heard from what people have said. Sometime ago, I was told by the locals on how some water buffaloes died from crossing the sea to the nearby islands due to jellyfish stung. I pretended to be surprised and quietly thought that they were just joking. Sadly, this current incident may probably confirmed that the locals' stories were real.

Such incident is very rare because most jellyfishes in Langkawi are not fatally dangerous. The above report said that it is probably a box jellyfish. Could the woman died of heart attack from panic and shock? Was there a detailed biopsy or post mortem done to detect any venom from the box jellyfish? Was there any other witness and any other evidence to blame the box jellyfish?

Should box jellyfish is the main suspect, it is the duty of the local authorities to take immediate action by:
1) Collaborating with the Marine department or relevant NGOs to do a research and study  on Langkawi waters for any potential dangerous jellyfishes.
2) Warning the public by putting signboards on the beach and educating them on taking vigilant steps.
3) Cordoning an area by placing netting for safe swimming during the jellyfish breeding season.

Was a standard procedure of CPR done properly to revive the victim? How much time did the local ambulance arrive at the scene? The general hospital to Pantai Cenang would take about 15 minutes and 10 minutes would be the quickest. Also, was there any beach lifeguards on standby during that time? Hmm... questions, questions..

Having said that, I strongly believe that the local authorities are fully responsible for this incident.  Is it worth generating great revenues in the tourism industry at the expense of the public's safety? 

We all should learn from Australia. The world knows Australia is a home to the most dangerous snakes, spiders, jellyfishes, crocodiles on earth and yet the country is able to attract millions of tourists annually. Why?

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