Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Next time, I think I will pass on the larvae shower...

Oh, the vacation was amazing.....we are sun-kissed, relaxed and had some of the best food and wine.

'I am so happy our fabulous vacation is over' is a statement made by not one person. Ever. We swam, snorkeled, played and had an amazing time with my brother. We did have one teeny tiny mishap though.

We chartered a boat and went off the coast on a perfect, gorgeous day. At one point, two sea lions swam by us and then literally, popped up out of the water and making expressive noises, they then appreared to kiss. It was so memorable that MiniMac wrote about it for one of his homework assignments (oh Kindergarten is tough, you go on vacation and take a stack of work with you.)

My favorite part of said homework assignment? The picture he drew of the sea lions kissing. And when I asked which one is the female, he said, "The one with eyelashes like you." Love!

But at our snorkel location, I assure you there were no sea lions kissing. About 1 minute in, MiniMac and I see several Angel Fish and Clown Fish. Through his snorkel, he attempts to exclaim, "NEMO!" which you know, comes out more like mmmmmmmmmmmMMMMMM. 5 minutes into the trip, MiniMac starts yelping. He wont remove his snorkel so we can't determine the issue. 2 seconds later I say in my inner monologue, what the H is that??? as I am stung multiple times on my arm. MiniMac is now crying full on with a face full of snorkel and mask. We are only about 50-75 feet from the boat, so I basically grab the back of his life jacket and began propelling him through the water in front of me. Have you pushed a crying 5 year old through the water before while wearing your own snorkel, mask and fins and basically swimming with one arm?  It doesn't look like Le Reve, let me promise you. His cries are not simmering to a whimper either, he is full throttle crying which we see about once per year.

The crew yanks him out of the water and he cant even tell me before I see that what ever has stung me on my arm, has also attacked the top of his leg and his foot. In the past he has had allergic reactions to bugs to my first reaction "Baby, I am right here to help you." My second thought was, "OH F_____." It looked like a hundred little jelly fish bites. The captain told us they were sea fleas. Really? What is THAT?" I googled it and learned one version is they are jelly fish larvae but since they are found no where near actual jelly fish, people don't expect them. That is the power of the ocean and how a tin can in the water off Seattle can end up in San Diego. The captain quickly says he has a remedy on board. Since I have been stung by a jelly fish before, I learned the 'remedy' is urine. Oh, I dont even want my own urine on my arm, so PLEASE do not come back with a sprayer full of someone else's urine to compensate for the welt and the pain. He returns with a can of Coke. I begin to douse MiniMac's leg. Finally, he calms down. We wait several minutes and then I decide, the best way to overcome the situation since we know how much he loves the water, is to get right back in.
He says, "No thank you." Daddy and Uncle Hi Pie stay on the boat so I get back in with one of the crew and we hope that MiniMac will see it is fine and decide to get back in momentarily. He opts out.

Now, believe me. I am not Chuck Norris so the creatures of the sea aren't going to run away in fright. And in fact, my arm hurts like a firecracker blew up my skin so I am wary of additional dancing with sea fleas, but I go. And thankfully I did. We end of swimming with a school of hundreds of Angel Fish. Deep breath. Get over your fears. And swim. It was beautiful.

I am going to contact a marine biologist I know and get to the bottom of the sea fleas. And next time I will pass on the larvae shower.


Chain Stitch Crochet said...

Poor MiniMac!!! And you are one brave woman....good for you!

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Sounds like fun until the sea fleas. Never heard of them either.

Unknown said...

I love swimming, but having grown up by a lake (or two) in Finland, I have an unexplained fear of swimming in the sea. I shudder at the thought of sea fleas…

Helena xx

Unknown said...

Yikes! I had never heard of sea fleas. that does not sound like fun!

webb said...

The husband and i got into sea fleas once, but they only stung INSIDE the bathing suits ... like everywhere inside. We used vnegar, but it was not pretty. You were a trooper to set such a good example.

Tumbleweed said...

Being that I am a man of the sea - and I hang out with many marine biologists at any given time - I offer you this:

There is much confusion about what people mean when they refer to a sea flea. While there is a marine creature of the Leptostraca family found in the waters around Australia that is called a sea flea, more often the term is actually used to describe the jellyfish larvae that can make sea bathers break out is a rash.

The Leptostracan sea flea is described as being around 8 mm long and being colorless creatures with striking red eyes. These sea fleas have a carapace covering the base of their legs, a rostrum enclosing the staked eyes and a narrowing abdomen that terminates in a forked tail. This species is said to live in muddy conditions and feed on organic matter and are generally found deep in the sea floor. The chances of random encounter with these sea fleas are very slim.

The other creature, the jellyfish larvae, which is mistakenly called a sea flea, is actually more likely to affect a swimmer in the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea or in the Florida coast. These jellyfish are usually found from March through August and tend to settle near the edges of bathing suits and trigger an allergic rash. This jellyfish is known by the scientific name Linuche unguiculata and is sometimes referred to as the thimble jellyfish. The larvae are described as looking like finely ground grains of pepper and so they are obviously not easy to spot while in the water. It is said that a person's swimming suit serves as the net that traps these creatures and facilitates skin contact. People usually feel a reaction anywhere between 4 and 24 hours after the initial exposure. There are seldom any adult jellyfish in the waters nearby to serve as warning and so very often those who get the rash are perplexed by these creatures and hence the rash is thought to be caused by a sea flea or sea lice.

Those who are bitten by the sea flea for the first time may feel anything from mild stinging to nausea and vomiting. There are those who have reported headaches and flu like symptoms including head aches, muscle and joint pain and an overall inertia or malaise. Those who have the encounter more than once seem to feel only a mild irritation in subsequent attacks although doctors are likely to advise those who have a severe reaction the first time to avoid going in the water all together. Those who are bitten by the jellyfish larvae may need to calamine lotions or other topical creams to deal with the itchiness. These will provide temporary relief and help in dealing with the rash. If you are headed to a beach where you are likely to encounter a sea flea, make sure to pack some anti-itch creams and keep an eye open for these tiny creatures especially if you see any signs of a rash setting in. By and large it is an inconvenience rather than a major health concern to be bitten by one of these water creatures.

Just a thought! oh, and down off the coast of baja - there are HUGE portugese man 'o war swarms...and they do CONSIDERABLE damge to adults, let alone children! Sorry you and the kiddo got to experience that first hand.