New sunblock also prevents jellyfish stings


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by . on June 01, 2004 at 05:05:02:

'Nemo' lotion helps ward off nasty sea stingers

A tried-and-tested lotion mimics the defenses of the clownfish, which has a chemical layer that neutralizes sea lice stings.

By ZACHARY EPSTEIN


They call it the "Nemo principle."

A sunblock now available in drugstores all over South Florida helps prevent jellyfish and sea lice stings with a chemical that mimics the slippery clownfish.

The weeks between Mother's Day and Father's Day are high season for the stinging sea pests off our beaches. But divers swear by Safe Sea sunblock, which has been around for years and is now more widely available -- at Winn-Dixie, Eckerd and Walgreens, among other stores.

The lotion, developed by Nidaria Technology, an Israel-based research company, mimics the defensive tactics of the clownfish, which has a chemical layer that neutralizes the stings.

"It works on the Nemo principle," said Paul Meyer, vice president and general manager of the sun care division of Dyno Corp., the primary distributor of the lotion in the United States.

"It tricks the jellyfish into thinking that it is touching another jellyfish and therefore will not sting," Meyer said. ``On the second level, it prevents the pressure from building up inside the sac, which contains the stinger, thereby preventing the stinger from firing. Or, if it does fire, it will fire with a lot less pressure."

Shannon Cunningham, a scuba instructor at Pro Dive in Fort Lauderdale who has been diving for more than 12 years, uses it almost every day.

"I've been using it for over a year," Cunningham said. ``The worst thing that is common is the sea lice because it can get all over your body, not just in a localized area. This is the definitely the best, not only because it is a barrier to the sun but also a barrier to the jellyfish."

The lotion is available with sun protection factors of 15, 30, 30+ for children, and 50.

Lisa Squillace of Diver's Direct Outlet in Plantation said: ``People rave about it. They say it really works against stings from jellyfish and sea lice."

Meyer said the lotion has been clinically tested at Stanford University's medical center and at the Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. It was also tested by dermatologists in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved hospital.

Dr. Arlen Stauffer of the Bert Fish Medical Center said tests on the lotion showed it works.

"We used jellyfish from the Intracoastal Waterway," Stauffer said. 'Both of the patients' forearms were used. One had Safe Sea lotion and one had just a sunscreen lotion. Jellyfish tentacles were applied to each forearm.

``Of the 10 volunteers, nine had no sting at all, and one of the 10 had a minor sting. All 10 got stung on the other arm."


Safe Sea Sunblock Lotion protects swimmers not only from sunburn but also from the stings of jellyfish, sea lice, and other marine creatures. Developed by an Israeli marine biologist and sold in many countries, the OTC is now being distributed in this country by Dyno Merchandise in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Packaged in 4-oz bottles, Safe Sea is available without SPF protection as well as with SPF 15, 30, 30+ for kids, and 50. Recommended retail prices range from $10 to $11. For more information, call (954) 803-4749.




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