Golden Silk Orb Weaver

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver Spiders  look like they could induce arachnophobia into the fearless, but worry not, these common little Nephila clavipes are basically harmless to humans.

Also known as Banana Spiders, you will definitely run into these gals if you walk along any densely treed pathway, whether it be near the beach or through the mangroves.

banana spider florida
A female Golden Silk Orb Weaver. The corpse of another Golden Silk female hangs by a thread below.

Once the heebie jeebies subside, examine the web of one of these creatures. Mature Golden Silk Spiders will weave a web that appears to be made of, you guessed it, golden silk! Their webs are extensive, semi-permanent structures, meaning they will rebuild a piece when it gets destroyed, but they won’t keep making new webs like other spiders do. So watch your heads, tall people, or you may come face to face with one of these beautiful spiders!

Gold Silk Orb Weavers will only bite a human if they are disturbed. The bite will sting, but will not be worse than a bee sting. There will be discomfort, redness, and maybe a mark, but other than that you should be fine. (An allergic reaction could occur, and if there are more severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.)

golden orb weaver spiders banana spider
Two females, one in the foreground and one in the background, appear to float in mid-air. The tiny little guy is not a baby, but the male spider! They only grow up to 6 mm wide!

Jellyfish: What to Do if You Get Stung

Pictured above are the stunning moon jellyfish, one of the most common jellyfish species in our oceans. Most of the time, these jellyfish won’t sting humans, but there are plenty of jellyfish who will if they feel threatened.

If you are going to swim in the ocean, it is important to know how to handle a jellyfish sting in order to minimize the discomfort and maximize calmness.

Step One: Remove the nematocysts (venomous stingers). Do this by first washing away any tentacles still stuck to you with salt water. Do not use fresh water.

The Mayo Clinic recommends that you use credit cards to brush off any nematocysts still stuck in your skin. If you use your fingers, you may get stung, and if you use any fabric, you may release more venom.

Step Two: Deactivate Nematocysts. You have two options that the Mayo Clinic recommends for this.

1) Rinse the affected area with generous amounts of vinegar for 30 seconds.

2) Mix salt water and baking soda to create a paste to apply to the affected area. (This is recommended for Portuguese Man-O-War and Sea Nettle stings.)

Step Three: Soothe the pain. Calamine lotion or other anti-itch lotions will soothe the irritation. Physicians are still debating whether or not warm water or cool water is the best way to soak your sting. Talk to a doctor to find out the best way to deal with your discomfort.

 

Jellyfish stings can range in severity. It can take anywhere from a few weeks or even a few months for a jellyfish sting to go away completely.

A “standard” jellyfish sting will include immediate burning pain, marks on the skin that will show where the tentacle came into contact (can be purplish, red, or brown), itching, tingling, numbness, radiating throbbing pain.

Severe jellyfish stings require immediate medical attention, especially if the person was stung all over. Reactions to jellyfish stings can occur immediately or over the course of a few hours.

Severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle spasms, weakness, dizziness, fever, loss of consciousness, irregular heartbeat, and more.*

 

Jellyfish are common, but most of the time they are content going on about their jellyfish lives and not stinging you. If you do come in to contact with one, do not panic! Stay calm, and retreat to shore if you can.

Most beaches will have a conditions chart where the lifeguard will write the daily sea conditions. (This can be found either on the lifeguard stand, or at the entrance to the beach.) This will usually include if there are any sea pests or dangerous marine life in the area. Always check this before you continue on to the beach!

If the beach you are going to does not have a conditions chart, exercise even greater caution.

If you are fascinated by jellyfish, or if you want to know which jellies have been spotted in your area, then check out JellyWatch. This excellent organization provides information on jellyfish sightings throughout the world. You can even add your own jellyfish sighting if you want!

Don’t fear the jelly!

 

*Information provided thanks to the research and expertise of the Mayo Clinic. The Beach Review is not written by a medical physician, and should not be used as a substitute to professional medical advice. Seek a medical professional if you or someone else is experiencing a severe jellyfish reaction.

How To Beat the Beach Heat

The beach is a place where we go to enjoy the summer sun and cool off from the summer heat. Most beaches offer little shade, and sometimes during the peak summer months the water won’t even offer true refreshment from the heat.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of what the heat can do to you or others, so that way a nice day at the beach won’t become a nightmare. The good thing is that it can all be prevented with proper preparation.

The Three Phases of Heat Problems

Heat Cramps

The first sign that the heat may be negatively affecting you is heat cramps. These occur during extended periods of time in the heat, often due to activities that require a high level of energy. Playing volleyball or jogging on the beach can induce heat cramps.

Your legs, arms, or stomach may begin to cramp, causing great discomfort. If you begin to cramp up, it is best to stop whatever activity you are doing and seek shade and water, until you begin to feel better.

If you do not listen to your body, heat cramps can turn into heat exhaustion.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by your body’s inability to cool itself off. This can be caused by hot weather, dehydration, strenuous activity, or alcohol consumption.

Whether you are suntanning, reading a book, searching for seashells, or jogging, heat exhaustion can strike.

Symptoms to look for: heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weak rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, cool moist skin with goosebumps despite the heat*

Treatments: Seek out shade or air-conditioning, drink cool fluids, put cool water on the skin, loosen clothing**

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees fahrenheit. (The average normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees fahrenheit.)

If heatstroke goes untreated, it can lead to permanent damage or even death.

Symptoms to look for: lack of sweat despite the heat, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, headache, confusion, muscle cramps, weakness, unconsciousness*

Treatments: Call a doctor or ambulance ASAP, immerse in cold water, seek out cool air, use cooling blankets, use ice packs**

Who is at Risk?

Some people are at a greater risk than others when it comes to dealing with the heat. The elderly and young are at very high risk for developing heat problems, and should be closely monitored at the beach.

Certain medications can affect how your body deals with the heat, so consult with your doctor to see if any medicine you are on may cause any heat issues for you.

Any day that has a high heat index of 91 degrees fahrenheit or above is hot enough to create problems for anyone, despite your age, health or experience. So be prepared!

*All above information courtesy of Mayo Clinic.

Things to Bring to the Beach to Prevent Heat Problems

  • Lots of water. If you plan on staying an extended period of time at the beach, it is best to have at least one gallon of water per adult. Make sure to use a reusable or refillable bottle to reduce plastic use.
  • Sunscreen. Apply and then reapply. Try to use reef-friendly sunscreen.
  • Umbrella. Umbrellas are a great way to provide some shade to your beach camp.
  • Drinks with electrolytes. Drinks such as Powerade or Gatorade provide nourishment that are designed to help prevent dehydration.
  • Cooler with Ice. Not only will your drinks stay cool, but you can cool down yourself and others with the ice.
  • Battery-Powered Fan. These fans are easy to use and will provide a constant breeze for anyone feeling the heat. You can even buy ones that are attached to spray bottles, so you can mist yourself!

It’s important to know the risks of the heat in order to be prepared for your beach day! Stay cool and beat the beach heat!

**The Beach Review is not written by a medical physician. Any information provided here should not be substituted for a licensed physician’s opinion. If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above, please seek professional medical help immediately.