Then there is the sea, beautiful in its various magical colors of blue and green. Wonders to explore by diving or snorkeling and the ever relaxing day of fishing. Of course the sea has it dangers and no matter how hard man tries, the sea always wins!
A young couple recently came to Guanaja from Roatan via Canada this past week on their honeymoon for relaxation and snorkeling. Unfortunately for them we were being invaded by a jelly fish not common to these waters.
The box jelly fish, or sometimes known as the sea wasp, is usually restricted to the Indo-Pacific but had suddenly appeared on the West side of the island in shallow water during the calm period just before Tropical Cyclone Harvey hit. While they are mainly found in Australia and the Mediterran, they can appear in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and in the sub tropics. Prior to this incident, I had never heard any reports of this particular jelly fish in the waters off Guanaja. It has an extremely potent venom which is contained in its tentacles which contain nematocyst (a harpoon-shaped mechanism that injects venom into the victim). They are very fast moving (can move up to 4 knots), are transparent and prey does not realize it has been stung until some time after. Once a tentacle adheres to the skin, it pumps toxin causing a stinging sensation and agonizing pain. Vinegar is generally poured over the skin and then the tentacles are removed with the aid of a towel-covered hand or a glove as direct contact with the skin can release more toxin to anyone attempting to remove the tentacle.
We met the couple when we were flying back to the island from the States last week at the airport in La Ceiba. They had booked a room at Bo's Island House and were looking forward to a week of relaxing and snorkeling. They got a lot more than they bargained for. They went snorkeling on Friday, a calm day (which is what these jellyfish love) and enountered a large group of box-like jellies swiming very quickly through the water. They never felt the initial sting and swam around for a short while in the group of jelly fish trying to get away. That evening the agonizing pain began and the blistering. No one knew just what to do because they had not seen this type of jelly fish before. So, no vinegar was poured on the stings nor were the tentacles removed! The photos below were taken on Sunday and the blistering had gone down but they were still experiencing much pain. There were more stings than those shown in the photograph and I do not envy them when they have to put clothing over the area and buckle up in an airplane pressed back into the seat for their return flight! They are returning to Roatan on Tuesday for 8 more days and they hope that by then the injuries will be healing over so that there will be less discomfort on their long flight back to Canada!
Then, we had a tropical cyclone approach the area which threatened us with high winds, rain and rough seas. This one was named Harvey and we were ready. Not that much in the way of preparations must be done for a tropical depression/cyclone/storm. A few plants may be brought in to protect them and maybe some lose furniture moved out of the way. This storm was rather gentle in that some of the “Northers” we have in the winter are far more damaging. There was not a lot of wind, enough to blow leaves off the trees and break weak or old branches, but there was little rain. There was, however, a lot of surge action in the sea. It came ashore at our house about 1 a.m. Saturday morning and we could hear the waves crashing on the beach. Previously, on Thursday while shopping for groceries on the Cay, our clear skies turned dark and for over 2-3 hours it poured on the shoppers. We registered 3” of rain at our house while parts of the island had absolutely nothing! Some of the streets were flooded as can you can see in the photograph supplied by my friend, Cathy, below. The children took advantage of the rain, making the most of the flooded streets by running through the shin-deep water!