The bluebottle jellyfish that have washed up on Northland's east coast deserve respect.

Their jelly-like remnants are attractive to children, and possibly inquisitive pets tracking their noses across the sand.

Internet research suggests little more than an inconvenient sting, but my personal experience suggests humans should steer well clear.

Read more: More bluebottles stranding on west coast of Northland, Niwa says


Some years back, our then 5-year-old poked a stick at some washed up blue bottles on a beach, then drew it toward his face, peering curiously at the cobalt jelly.

We stopped him, more because of general parental wariness than being aware of the full extent of the bluebottle's painful capabilities.

We were lucky we did, based on what we would come to learn.

Unbeknown to us, a local hospital emergency department doctor also walked the beach that day and observed the poisonous jellyfish.

He and our son met the next day, after the 5-year-old ran gleefully into the beach's full tide shallows, into a bluebottle swarm.

We carried him, screaming, back to the bach we were staying in, and held him, not quite knowing what to do.

He soon suffered the indignity of having urine poured on his legs, which were flecked with blue jelly and red welts.

It didn't help. So water was poured on his legs and he was delivered to the hospital.


The screaming stopped just as he was carried through the automatic sliding doors, and the doctor who treated him shook his head and tut-tutted - we had not been the only case that day.

Hot water eased the stings - urine can make them worse.

The water should be as hot as the patient can bear it, we were told. (Don't use vinegar either, it can make the stings worse).

Do yourself a favour and stay well clear.