‘It’s like a tree bit me’: 4-year-old Swampscott boy describes encounter with lion’s mane jellyfish

SWAMPSCOTT, MASS. (WHDH) - A Swampscott boy was in for a stinging surprise this weekend when he came face-to-face with one of the world’s largest species of jellyfish.

Four-year-old River Weinand described the scary moment he was stung by the lion’s mane jellyfish while swimming in Swampscott’s Eisman’s beach over the weekend.

“It’s like a tree bit me,” River said.

“They were maybe yay long and draped over his shoulders, on his back, on his ear, on his chin and neck. And so I immediately started grabbing it off,” his dad Nick Weinand said.

Experts say this type of jellyfish is no stranger to the New England coast, but this year, it seems, they’re everywhere.

“Personally I don’t ever remember seeing quite so many at once,” Steve Spina, Assitant Curator of Fishes, at the New England Aquarium said.

While the one that stung River was no more than a foot or two in diameter, they can grow to be larger than a human.

“Tentacles have been measured as long as 120 feet,” Spina said. “I think the biggest problem is people get multiple stings, it can really be unpleasant.

The stings are not deadly.

“An hour later you could still see it, it was like he had gotten whipped a little bit or something like that,” Weinand said of River’s stings.

The family said they were able to save the day with a bottle of vinegar and a spiderman popsicle.

Dad said, “we poured vinegar on him and I held him and we both smelled like vinegar and quickly went down to the beach.”

River’s pain lasted about 40 minutes but his parents say it will not be enough to keep him away from the ocean.

“As long as you’re careful and the water’s clear enough… we’ll be out there,” Weinand said.

Lifeguards are now being supplied with vinegar so they can help beachgoers in the future.

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