Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Be Stung By Jellyfish -- For Fun!

Have you ever had a desire to help science – as a human guinea pig? No? Oh, come on, you know there's an inkling in there that you'd like to subject yourself to some sort of diabolical testing for the betterment of mankind. Heck, you don't have to be a starving college student to enjoy the subtle pleasures of being exposed to strange pills, electroshock experimentation, dietary disruptions, or psychological manipulations for laughable compensations.

Consider, if you will, a recent call for volunteers to be stung by jellyfish:

Another source of the story: HERE

Norwegian researchers at the University of Oslo are looking for volunteers to help them test a sunscreen that can also repel jellyfish stings.

From the article: "The study, sponsored by AC Suncare, a Norwegian sun care company and manufacturer of the product, will test the efficacy of an anti-jellyfish sting sunscreen developed by Nidaria, an Israeli technology company." The protectant is mucus-like in consistency and is supposed to mimic the protective coating on clownfish, which live in the tentacles of stinging anemones without being harmed.

As long as you are over 18, not pregnant, asthmatic, or have skin allergies or diseases, you can sign up. Oh, and you have to be hairless on your inner arms. Seeing as how I'm as hairy as a frickin' caveman, I guess that leaves me out. Shucks. But maybe YOU could still sign up, eh?

Should you join their research, one of your arms will be coated in regular sunscreen and the other will be coated with sunscreen plus jellyfish protectant. Then – oh lucky you – both arms will be subjected to stinging jellyfish tentacles. That's 2000 stinging jellyfish needles for every square millimeter of your supple flesh that comes in contact with a tentacle. I can just see you willingly lowering your arms into a giant tank packed with pulsating jellyfish.

When I was about 13 years old, my family and I traveled to Panama Beach, Florida, on vacation. On my first dip into the ocean, I waded off the bone-white beach into the surf. Literally the second wave to hit me, some sort of jellyfish wrapped around me and then washed away. Instantly I was hit by blinding pain. Looking down at my torso, I saw red whelps developing, front and back. It was as if someone was shoving about a thousand red-hot ice picks into my quivering teenage skin. I shouted to my mother and managed to make it back to the beach. Knowing the secret of how to treat such stings, my stepfather ran to a nearby store and bought a container of meat tenderizer, then ran back. Mixing the meat tenderizer powder with water into a paste and applying it to the whelps, the pain quickly dissipated. A decade later, I learned why. The enzymes in the meat tenderizer, which are used to break down the protein matrix of meat to make it tender, also broke down the proteins that caused the stinging sensation. Now, having experienced jellyfish stings, I can say I would rather not re-experience the sensation – over and over again – even in the name of science.

And what, per se, do the intrepid volunteers of this study get in compensation for their sufferings? Good pay? A glamorous all-expenses paid trip to Oslo? A night with beautiful Norwegian women?

Not even close: Three bottles of anti-jellyfish sunscreen.

Wow! Let's not get too extravagant! Hell, it would be less embarrassing to claim you're just doing it for fun than to boast about being compensated with three lousy bottles of anti-jellyfish sunscreen which has yet to be shown to work.

And let's hope they have plenty of meat tenderizer around the lab.

Image taken from HERE.


Anonymous said...

OW, OW, OW!!! No way am I volunteering for that study. I did a lot of volunteering for clinical trials while I was still in research, but never something that pain-inducing (almost sounds like volunteering for a Tazer trial, doesn't it?). My sister still has remnant numbness in places where she was stung by Venezuelan jellyfish over 20 years ago!


Anonymous said...

Maybe if they'd let me wear that lovely swimsuit pictured in the photo!

Anonymous said...

are you crazy??
honestly has anyonw signed up for this????

laffeeloo said...

The most shocking searing sensation. I was shrieking before I knew why. My arm was in f-ing flames. I spun around and saw a large whitish jellyfish looking a bit like a plastic bag in the water. A 4"x6" splotch on my inner arm formed into welts and blisters before I even reached shore. It was early morning and I had been simply floating lazily on my back, close to shore, admiring the view. We had camped overnight, sleeping in hammocks, in Mochimo National Park in Venezuela. This was just a week before xmas this year. 3 and a half weeks later my arm still burns and itches. The blisters and welts finally turning into scabs, are slowly healing. You could not pay me enough to go through this experience again.

Z said...

my dad got stung and he still sometimes feels pain. That sure sounds like fun dos'nt it.

Anonymous said...

you know what? They made it and the sunscreen worked;)

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