Bluebottles suck. No, that’s not quite right. They actually sting. Annoying nevertheless. And, quite painful too.
I’ve seen the first bluebottles this season already. In case you are lucky enough not to ever have seen one, they look like blue jellyfish and float on the surface with their sometimes metre long tentacle (only one) under water. If you plan on surfing on Australia’s East coast this summer, chances that you’ll encounter them sooner or later are quite high. When I say ‘them’ I mean lots. You’ll never see only one as they can only survive as a big group as a colonial organism (and thus, are actually no jellyfish but something called siphonophore…thanks Wiki).
I can’t even remember how many bluebottle stings I have had. A few every summer at least which gave me a chance to test quite a few remedies. Before we get to the remedy part, you need to get rid of the thing first which not always proofs that easy. Depending on the length of the thing and how entangled you are really. Quite often they just brush you and it hurts but if you are unlucky they wrap themselves around any of your limbs. I had one persistent one wrapped around my ankle once. Try to get that off while you are sitting at your surfboard…almost impossible. Hot tip: Pick a hot dude to help you and take it off (I mean the bluebottle)….soothes the pain. At least for a bit. Usually, the pain sets in (the real pain not just the stinging pain) after 10-20 min and f… it can hurt. I find the closer to any glands it is the more painful. Hands and feet ok but I had one wrapped around my thighs once – not funny.
Unless you got stung on your hands or feet only, I would recommend to get out of the water as you don’t know what effect it has on you (especially if it’s the first time). Then what to do next? Well some people swear that peeing on it is the best cure. Best straight away i.e. still in the surf. Clearly, that’s the male surfers recommendation due to anatomical advantages pee-direction wise.
I’ve tried vinegar and orange. Not really working for bluebottle pain….
I think the Surf Life Savers use cold freshwater. I personally find hot showers the best but if you are on a roadie the next hot shower might be quite far so yes in that case try freshwater. And patience. An hour or so and all that reminds you off an encounter with the little bluebottle will be a line of red dots which will fade after a few days too in most cases.
Oh and because I like them so much, another smartarse tip: Prevention works quite well in the war against Portoguese man o’war (other name of blue bottle). If you can see shit loads of dead blue bottles on the water’s edge, you might want to sit out this one surf or opt for a rashie at least. I can’t imagine a blue bottle around your upper body being much fun.
Despite being annoying, on a positive note they are actually some stunning creatures. Last year, a dude called Duncan MacFarlane took amazing close-up shots for bluebottles. They are still up on the Swellnet page >>