Jellyfish, man o' wars still hanging around (copy)

A Portuguese man-of-war found on Isle of Palms in years past. File/Nancy Guss/Provided

The jellyfish scare along the Charleston coast reached big numbers Friday with at least 41 people reported stung at Isle of Palms County Park.

Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island reported 15 jellyfish stings, while swimmers around the Folly Beach Pier reported five jellyfish stings plus two possible man-o-war stings, one of which was confirmed, the parks office said.

Both stings were relatively small in size — one on a foot and one on a knee.

There was also one possible stingray hit.

The count does not include swimmers hit outside of the parks' boundaries, meaning the spread could be much larger. 

The numbers come as the recent increase in activity along Charleston beaches appears to be tied to the windy weather.

Weatherflow Meteorologist Shea Gibson said there is a much more robust flow coming up this way from offshore the Florida and Georgia coasts.

"This persistent driving wind pattern brings many species up from the south," he said.

On Friday, lifeguards at Folly Beach, Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island flew purple flags warning of jellyfish or other critters in the water.

Social media carried reports of people being stung. Lifeguards also red-flagged the beach to the west of the Folly pier because of jellyfish stings.

As a precaution, no swimming was allowed.

"Be careful y'all. Little boy just got stung by a Man O'War. His day was ruined," read one post on the I Love Folly Beach Facebook site.

One area to be aware of at the beach is in the surf, where jellyfish become particularly hard to see as they mix in the rolling waters.

Sarah Reynolds, public information coordinator for the parks system, said jellyfish stings tend to be more frequent in general in July and August.

Big daily sting numbers are not uncommon. In 2016, there were over 300 stings reported at Isle of Palms County Park in July 2016 alone, with 72 coming in one day.

If you do get stung by a jellyfish, experts recommend washing the area in sea water and to carefully remove any remaining stingers. Douse with vinegar if available, but a better bet is to get home and shower or soak the area in water as hot as you can comfortably stand.

Use cortisone or antihistamines for persistent itching or swelling. 

For the worst stings, call 911.

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Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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