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Advisory issued on swimming in the Great Sound

Swimmers have been advised to avoid the Great Sound as Government investigates claims of “sea lice” in Bermuda's waters.

The warning follows complaints of itchy skin and a red rash swimmers believe to have been caused by an influx of jellyfish larvae over the Cup Match holiday.

A Government spokesman said water samples examined by the Department of Conservation Services identified the thimble jellyfish Linuche unguiculata, as a likely cause of the discomfort.

“Local scientists took water samples [Tuesday] but were unable to positively identify several small jellies that were less than 1mm in size as they were at an early developmental stage with insufficient diagnostic features,” he stated. “Adult Linuche are up to 2cm in size.

“Despite not positively identifying the species as Linuche, the assumption is that the small jellies found in the samples are responsible for the swimmers' reactions. Further samples will be taken during the next few days in an effort to positively identify the species.”

The warning to avoid the Great Sound was issued “out of an abundance of caution” as most of the affected persons were said to be swimming in that area, the spokesman added.

“The South Shore is less likely to have the same density of jellies due to the larger dilution effect. Jellies are also likely to thrive in inshore waters because there is more food for them. The duration of this event may stretch over two to three weeks.”

Linuche unguiculata most often sting when they are trapped against the skin rather than swimmers just brushing against the animals, the spokesman explained.

“Stinging cells may also be triggered by fresh water so swimwear should be removed before showering. Treatment may not be necessary and if left alone the rash should go away within a few days. Calamine lotion may reduce the irritation. If symptoms persist for longer than several days, or worsen, a doctor should be consulted.

“Jellies may still be present in swimwear after exiting the ocean and it is recommended that swimming attire be machine-washed to avoid the possibility of further stinging when swimwear is used again.”

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Published August 04, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 04, 2011 at 9:52 am)

Advisory issued on swimming in the Great Sound

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