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Large dead jellyfish stings beachgoers in NH

By Lynne Tuohy
Associated Press Writer / July 21, 2010

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CONCORD, N.H.—About 150 people were stung by a large dead jellyfish that broke into pieces at a state park in Rye on Wednesday, including nine children who were treated at a hospital, authorities said.

The children -- ranging in age from 5 to 10 -- were being treated and released and were "all doing fine," Portsmouth General Hospital spokeswoman Christine Galli said.

Wallis Sands State Park Manager Ken Loughlin said lifeguards at the park in Rye spotted the jellyfish, which he described as the size of a "turkey platter" and weighing nearly 50 pounds.

Lt. Charles Gallant of the Rye Fire Department said the jellyish was "about the size of a trash can cover," and it started to fall apart when park staffers tried to remove it from the water.

Although the creature was dead, the stingers on its tentacles were still active; they can stay alive for three to four days after a jellyfish dies, Gallant said.

Doug Grout, chief of marine fisheries for the state of New Hampshire, identified the stinging sea creature as a Lion's Mane jellyfish and said it weighed more than 40 pounds. The species is rarely seen so far south and in such shallow waters, he said.

In the northern New England region, Lion's Mane jellyfish average 8 feet in diameter and can have tentacles as long as 150 feet.

"They can hurt," Grout said of the stings. "I wouldn't say they're deadly, but they provide discomfort."

Grout told The Associated Press that the unusual sight of such a large jellyfish, and the sting it packs, contributed to the brief panic at the state park.

"I've lived here 30 years and this is the first one I've heard of washing up on a beach," Grout said. "A lot of people aren't used to running into these things. In northern New England they're fairly common, but they stay off shore."

Paramedics were called to the popular beach around 2 p.m., after several children and adults were stung in the water. Lifeguards asked swimmers to stay out of the water as some of the victims were treated at the beach and others were taken to the hospital.

Six of the children were brought to the hospital by ambulance and three were brought by parents. The majority of the children were from Camp Foster in Manchester, which had an outing at the state park, Galli said.

The children were enjoying Popsicles and were being bathed in vinegar, which is a common treatment for jellyfish stings. They also were given antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications.

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