Forget Sharks! There’s Something Scarier in the Water off Waikiki

Even as Hawaii’s tourist trade struggles to rebound, Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into things.

Vacationing in paradise can be a great thing.

Sun, sand and surf can go a long way to restoring a sense of well being in an increasingly stressful world.

It can also go a long way towards restoring an economy. In particular, tourism is the life blood of Hawaii’s economy, which is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

The state saw 829,699 visitors in August, the latest monthly statistics available from the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. That’s down more than 10% from August visits in 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic.

The falloff in visits from Japan remained much worse. There were just 28,384 visitors from Japan in August vs. 160,728 visitors in August of 2019. That situation is likely to improve this fall as Japan has relaxed travel restrictions allowing more people travel abroad  and fly back home without quarantining.

An Unwelcome Guest

But now an unwelcome visitor is making a return, throwing a new wrinkle into the state’s recovering tourist trade.

Ominous warning signs have been posted on Honolulu’s Waikiki beach cautioning visitors against the presence of box jellyfish in the water, Hawaii News Now reported. The city of Honolulu has issued a box jellyfish advisory, according to the report.

The warnings are necessary because the gelatinous creatures can deliver an extremely painful sting, which in some cases can prove fatal.

A 14-year-old boy died in Australia earlier this year after becoming ensnared in the tentacles of one of the creatures.

Lifeguards watch for, and on occasion close beaches when the jellyfish appear in sufficiently large numbers.

Otherwise, beachgoers who are stung are advised to use white vinegar to treat the sting and prevent further release of the dangerous toxins.

Physical protection such as wet suits can prevent stings as well, according to experts. Some studies have found that wearing pantyhose works too because the stinging cells are triggered by a chemical response, not the physical contact with the skin. 

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