Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Box Jelly fish Thai work group visiting Koh Samui

Today I went to see Dr. Lakkana Thaikruea and Dr. Potjaman Siriarayapon who are part of the Box jelly fish Thai work group visiting Koh Samui on one of their work visits to Koh Samui, were they presented their findings of their research into box jelly fishes around Thailand and in this particular case, around Koh Samui.

They work for the Ministry of Public Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology and they have also been in Australia and spent good time in Melbourne with John Lippmann, the CEO of DAN Asia Pacific and Andrew Jones, a journalist who's working on establishing awareness for box jellyfish, after his 4 year old son got stung in Koh Mak during a holiday in Thailand a couple of years ago. During their recent stay the Thai work group did meet all of the Northern Queensland experts on box jelly fish.

Their work in Thailand involves travelling around the country and collecting stories and data. They conduct seminars with health officials and provide training in box jellyfish safety and prevention. This area is one they are wanting to develop much stronger over the next 12 months.

Their work fits perfectly in my postings about the presence of box jelly fish in Thai waters out of which the link mentioned together with Andrew Jones' son above actually is the most visited post on this blog!

Back to the Thai team though, their work so far has included two stages and the first stage of getting proof that there are box jellyfish in Thai waters, in which they succeeded and the consequent recognition of problems that accompany this fact followed by the education to deal with this problem has been closed.

Now they are starting up phase 2 of their project, which is to set up a network around Thailand for surveillance and prevention.

Anybody interested, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will pass on your information to the right persons. Action is needed and each and every action you take may be of importance and will be helpful and appreciated.

Box Jelly fish Thai work group visiting Koh Samui
The Box Jelly fish Thai work group visiting Koh Samui, from left to right; Dr. Rochana Wutthanarungsan, Khun Punnarai, Dr. Lakkana Thaikruea, Dr. Potjaman Siriarayapon and myself.

Let me introduce the main players to you;

Dr. Lakkana Thaikruea; Advisor and Supervisor, she's an associate professor at the Medicine Faculty of the Chiang Mai University and has plenty of publications and research to her name. She has two blogs related to education and awareness of projects that she works on, including this box jelly fish project; this one is in Thai and English and this one is in Thai only.

Dr. Potjaman Siriarayapon; Advisor of the research and she works as an medical epidemiologist at the Bureau of Epidemiology, Ministry of Public Health.
She's very nice and interested in anything related to this project and very much in tune with the realities of this project and very sympathetic to the cause. She’s a very interesting person who has given box jellyfish a high priority considering Thailand has so many diseases and public health issues to deal with.

Dr. Rochana Wutthanarungsan; Principle investigator of the phase 1 research

Khun Punnarai; Project coordinator

Anybody interested in this topic, please don't hesitate to get in touch, it's highly appreciated.

Let's try to get awareness of box jelly fish in Thailand out there.

Camille

9 comments:

Bo said...

Hello

Here in Sweden the newspapers write a lot about very dangerous Jellyfishes in Thailand and on Chaweng Beach. They write that the jellyfish can kill a man in a few seconds

Have you got any experiences?

If we go to Chaweng - which part is most safe from jellyfish - the south part or the part in the Lagoon?

Thank you very much for an answer

Bo

Bo said...

We plan to visit Koh Samui and the Chaweng Beach (Hotel Regent)

In Sweden we have read a lot about dangerous Box Jelly Fish.

Have you got any information about how common this is in Samui-waters? Chaweng Beach in the north says have a lagoon - what do you think of jelly fishes there?

Greetings from Swedes who would like to come to Samui - without beeing killed by jelly fishes

Bo

Camille said...

Hi Bo,

Thanks for enquiry. Sorry for not getting back to you any earlier, I did receive the earlier message but was very busy travelling around all over the South of Thailand.

To get back to your question, although there are box jelly fish in Thai waters, it’s nothing to get too excited about and a little bit of preparation should work very well indeed.

My advice is to use the beaches in so called stinger suits or any other full body suit, they will give full body protection and will prevent the majority of your body to be stung by a box jelly fish or any other jelly fishes. I use them when I go diving off the beaches around the beaches on Samui. Another thing to have handy is a full bottle of vinegar when on the beach, most likely you won’t need it but it will help in case of stings.

Encounters are rather rare in general but it may be better to be prepared than to be sorry.

Hope that this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions.

Juha said...

Hey Camille!

I stumbled to this forum thread today: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1879164 while I was looking for information about the (box) jelllyfish situation in Thailand. I saw your replies and thought you'd be a good person to contact about this matter.

We've been 2 times in Thailand before and we're coming there for our third trip next March. This time around, I've been thinking if we should get stinger/wet suits for all 3 of us, as a precaution agaist the jellyfish (as we all love to snorkle!). The problem is, neither of us has experience on what kind of suits to look out for and where to buy them. Do you have any recommendations on some brands / models /etc?

The suits don't have to be any "high-end" ones, as we're only going to use them on our vacation, but they should provide good protection against the jellyfish, feel confortable and so forth.

What's the latest info about the box jellyfish situation there by the way? On our last trip there (Ao nang, phuket, samui, tao) we saw quite many jellyfish (probably not any box ones though) but fortunately, didn't got stung by one. We did saw one small kid got stung on the Railay beach though. Hope he's fine now :)

Would love to hear your insights and recommendations!

P.S. We might visit Samui on our trip, so might get a chance to say hi in person!

Cheers!

Camille said...

Hi Juha,

Thanks for enquiry.

To get back to your question, although there are box jelly fish in Thai waters, it’s nothing to get too excited about and a little bit of preparation should work very well indeed.

It’s indeed a wise move to use the beaches in so called stinger suits or any other full body suit, they will give full body protection and will prevent the majority of your body to be stung by a box jelly fish or any other jelly fishes. I use them when I go diving off the beaches around the beaches on Samui. Another thing to have handy is a full bottle of vinegar when on the beach, most likely you won’t need it but it will help in case of stings.
On Samui there are two dive shops that I know of that sell 0.5mm body suits, one made by Mares and one made by Scubapro. I don’t know of anybody selling specific stinger suits on Samui.

Encounters are rather rare in general but it may be better to be prepared than to be sorry.

The latest info is that’s it’s relatively quiet on the box jelly fish front, which is good. There have been recent sightings but nobody got stung. A good source for up to date information is to be found in this blog;
Thai box jelly fish blog

Hope this all helps for now and you will enjoy your holidays.

Bo said...

Thank you very very much for hyour answer.


Do you know anything about the lagoon in the north of Samui outside for example Chaweng Regent Beach Resort.

Do you think this lagoon is a safer place - not likely to meet up with box jellyfishes?

Have you ever heard of anyone seeing an box jellyfish on Chaweng Beach?

Very much thank you
and greetings from Sweden now -10 degrees Celsius and about half meter snow

Bo

Camille said...

Hi Bo,

There is unfortunately no distinction in where a box jelly might show up, no guarantee whatsoever. Over the 12 years that I live here I’ve seen pictures of one box jelly fish on Chaweng Beach, know of one registered fatal encounter almost 11 years ago and was once personally involved during dive training on Chaweng Beach with an encounter in almost 500 dives and uncountable swims.

In general encounters are very rare and not something to have you worry too much about it, some simple precautions should work just fine, including using stinger suits or similar clothing and having a bottle of vinegar within hand reach. Most likely however nothing will happen and in my opinion you will be safe although this can’t be a 100% guarantee.

Hope this helps for now.

gazh999 said...

Hi Camille,

I was swimming off Koh Phi Phi this time last year and was stung on the back of my hand. I remember seeing something blue in the corner of eye, what looked like a piece of litter, kind of like a sweet wrapper, mushroom shaped and floating at the surface. The sting wasn't too bad to be honest, it felt like a nettle sting but much worse and after around 20 minutes the pain had gone. Do you have any idea what it could of been?

Camille said...

Hi Gaz,

Unfortunately it's not enough information for me to determine what may have stung you, but it doesn't sound like a box jelly fish.