Itchy invaders: Sea lice reported at Darien’s Weed Beach
Darien beaches have certainly been popular throughout the summer to the point of having to close parking lots. But last Friday, there was a different kind of visitor.
Bathers were warned of the presence of sea lice at Weed Beach on July 24 after a swimmer spotted them. Lifeguards were immediately instructed to post signs.
Parks & Rec Director Pam Gery and Health Department Director David Knauf said “all we can do is warn people.”
“The worst thing is there is no way to predict how long they will be around. They are found in the warm waters and swim in blooms. They can get stuck in bathing suits and sting in defense,” Gery said.
Sea lice are no relation to head lice, according healthline.com. They are actually jellyfish larvae. They get trapped underneath bathing suits and the pressure causes them to release inflammatory, stinging cells that cause itching, irritation and red bumps on the skin. Doctors also call this sea bather’s eruption.
According to National Geographic, sea lice are the larvae of a small species of jellyfish called thimble jellyfish. It also reports they are transluscent so they are hard to avoid in the water.
Not everyone gets virtual itches from even the concept of sea lice. Though it was canceled this year, the annual international sea lice convention has been rescheduled for September 2021 in the Faroe Islands off Scotland. Begun in 1992, attendees can have a “unique opportunity to interact with internationally renowned sea lice researchers.”
Early bird registration ends on May 29, 2021.
Swimmers are advised to remove bathing suits promptly, shower and wash the suit before wearing it again.
Hydrocortisone cream provides some relief for the itch, which will go away in a week or so. That appears to be the worst of the effects, according to Knauf and Gery.
For the latest on Darien beaches and updates from the health department, visit Darienct.gov.