Black stinging "weed" underwater - what is it?

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by checkyourmirrors, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. checkyourmirrors

    checkyourmirrors Angel Fish

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    While diving in Coz last week I rubbed up against what looked like black weeds where my skin was exposed. It caused immediate pain similar to bee stings that lasted a few minutes. Almost like underwater stinging nettles.

    Does anyone know what this was and I didn't think it was fire coral?
     
  2. driftin' by

    driftin' by Surface Interval Member

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  3. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I've always heard it called "hydroid". It's a colony animal related to jellyfish. Usually one encounter such as yours is enough to get you to pay attention and avoid touching it. I know it was for me. ;^)
     
  4. driftin' by

    driftin' by Surface Interval Member

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    Gordon has the correct scientific name, it's definately a hydroid. 'Hydra' is just my Spanglish interpretation I've gotten over the years from DM's. In any event, once you've encountered it, you'll never forget it!
     
  5. Dave Zimmerly

    Dave Zimmerly Manta Ray

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    Yeah, I got stung on my hand both in May and November (same hand!). Since I dive with my hands behind my back, it's still a mystery how I came into contact with it.

    Takes about a month for it to heal.

    Regards,
    Dave (aka "Squirt")
     
  6. Sue Sue

    Sue Sue Loggerhead Turtle

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    It leaves the most delightful raised red rash as well :doh: This stuff really stings and it does take 4-6 weeks to completely heal. You can try topical treatments, but I have yet to find anything that really helps. I too got hit with this stuff... twice. Once, I admit, due to my error, with another occurrence from out of the blue, literally.... I was going along, in the middle of nowhere, away from any coral or reef and POW, huge sting on my ankle. Once on top, I had the same hive like rash that I had from the prior incident. Could it perhaps come from floating hydroid that had broken off somewhere else? Or maybe just from another type of stinging critter of sorts. Maybe this is what happened to you Dave. ???? Regardless, hydroid is a very good reason to pay close attention to buoyancy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  7. driftin' by

    driftin' by Surface Interval Member

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    Or are the symptoms just delayed? That seems to have been my experience with it... it'll take a few moments to realize you had an unfortunate encounter. And I've seen broken bits of it floating around and have done what I can to avoid it. So I guess anything is possible?
     
  8. Prop Joe

    Prop Joe Photographer

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    Yup, Hydroids. You will see the dive masters with the same issue's from the dang things. I get stung by them every year. No matter how careful I am I always seem to get stung. Easy to brush against while chasing critters with camera as they do not show up through the view finder. I've also been setting up for a shot in close quarters and had another diver swim above me blowing the hydroid into my hands with one kick of their fins. Get the strongest hydroquartizone cream you can and apply frequently. That is the only thing that seems to help my skin. I've also tried scraping the stingers off with the backside of my EMT shears before surfacing... Seemed to help. Takes a few weeks to go away. Mileage may vary.
     
  9. cduffey

    cduffey Nassau Grouper

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    My husband seems to encounter it just about every time we're in Coz. His reaction is almost like poison ivy and the docs treat it like they would treat a poison ivy reaction.
     
  10. parrotheaddiver

    parrotheaddiver Loggerhead Turtle

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    Yup...been there done that:D
     
  11. Christi

    Christi PADI MSDT/Dive op owner ScubaBoard Supporter

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    You've gotten great info...and just to confirm from a DM/Instructor's perspective...yes...they can be broken off and floating. A few weeks ago while doing my ascent I felt a sting on my hand. I was in mid-water column, so it wasn't from brushing up against anything. A day or two later, I had a rash on my hand. It takes three to four weeks to completely go away. Applying vinegar as soon as you get back on the boat helps, but since it's too late for that..apply hydrocortizone cream often and be very careful about scratching it...it actually can spread.
     
  12. FishOutUvH2O

    FishOutUvH2O Manta Ray

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    This was taken last month in Cozumel, a couple of days after my encounter with a Hydroid. . .
    [​IMG]

    There are several "remedies" that people suggested to deal with the itching:
    1. Divemaster urine- This just wasn't going to happen!!!
    2. Vinegar- I tried this and it helped a little.
    3. Hydrocortisone (in Spanish Hidrocortisona) cream, 2.5%- This stuff worked the best. You can get it at pretty much any of the pharmacies down there. Make sure it's the 2.5% one. It's prescription strength, so use it sparingly.

    BTW: Don't let Christi (BlueXTSea) see it or she'll scold you for touching the reef!
     
  13. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Not for me. I got hit on the back of my hand by a hydroid a few years ago and it was like an electric shock the instant I touched it.
     
  14. Sue Sue

    Sue Sue Loggerhead Turtle

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    Thanks Christi for letting us know that it can free float and still do its damage. The second time this happened to me I was actually upset because I didn't think I had come in contact with anything. Also, the one thing that did help a little bit, once I got home was ...of all things, Preparation H. At least the swelling and redness went down somewhat, but it didn't take the itch away. I guess I should have been more aggressive with the Hydrocortisone. Hope I don't have a next time. S
     
  15. driftin' by

    driftin' by Surface Interval Member

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    Interesting... I guess like a bee sting, people react differently. Also, mine never looked as bad as FishOutUvH2O's! Dude, that looks nasty. Ouch! I know one of the times I got it, I was getting in tight to photograph a pesky juvenile spotted drum with my camera and one raked the back of my hand. Other then jerking away thinking I was touching something precious, there was no immediate pain... just a persistent itch that followed with little swelling.
     
  16. FishOutUvH2O

    FishOutUvH2O Manta Ray

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    It looked far worse than it felt. I only vaguely remember running into it. It never really itched that bad and has pretty much disappeared. It's scary when you find out what caused it, because those little buggers are everywhere down there. It's kind of funny because random strangers will see it and just say, "Hydroids or jellyfish?" So it's a great conversation piece. Still, I don't recommend touching them if you don't have to.
     
  17. Christi

    Christi PADI MSDT/Dive op owner ScubaBoard Supporter

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    HEY! Be nice...haha! I didn't scold you that bad :D
     
  18. deborahdelamar

    deborahdelamar Loggerhead Turtle

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    Usually you'll feel it when you are stung by hydroids -- little prickles, not painful. Best to treat the site immediately with vinegar or ammonia to dissolve the bits that are in your skin (jes, Windex is good.) Don't rub! When it starts to itch, soak in the hottest water you can stand for as long as you can stand it. Treat the itchies with whatever works for you: Antihistamine caps or topicals, hydrocortisone cream, or simply seal from the air with hairspray (hairspray works great for itchy bug bites, too.) There's also a cream that's sold at American Pharmacy on Calle 3 near the waterfront that works well for the initial rash -- don't remember the name; starts with an "A." The itching shouldn't last more than a few days. When it stops, treat the rash with anti-scar cream or hydrcortisone cream. The rash takes from about 10 days to a month to dry & heal. It's fine to dive with it but seawater slows healing.
     
  19. Dave Zimmerly

    Dave Zimmerly Manta Ray

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    I found that lots of hot water did help and a product called "Xyloderm" sold at Cedrual (sp?).

    Regards,
    Dave (aka "Squirt")
     
  20. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

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    It would be interesting to see pix of this species. I dove Belize for several months and didn't have a problem (but I recognized several of the stinging hydroids there). We also get free swimming siphonophores (relatives of the Portuguese man of war) out in Catalina waters that may break up and leave welts if they come in contact with your skin).
     

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