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Giant jellyfish stings beachgoers in NH

Giant jellyfish stung 150 peope at a state park in Rye on Wednesday, including nine children who were treated at a local hospital, authorities said.

By Lynne TuohyAssociated Press / July 22, 2010

Children react to jellyfish stings at Wallis Sands State Park along Ocean Boulevard in Rye, N.H. on Wednesday, July 21. About 150 people were stung by a giant jellyfish that broke into pieces on Wednesday, including nine children who were treated at a local hospital, authorities said.

Rich Beauchesne/The Portsmouth Herald/AP

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CONCORD, N.H.

About 150 people were stung by a large jellyfish at a state park in Rye on Wednesday, including nine children who were treated at a local hospital, authorities said.

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The children — ranging in age from 5 to 10 — were being treated and released and were "all doing fine," Portsmouth General Hospital spokeswoman Christine Galli said.

Wallis Sands State Park Manager Ken Loughlin said lifeguards spotted the jellyfish, which he described as the size of a "turkey platter" and weighing nearly 50 pounds.

IN PICTURES: Giant jellyfish

Doug Grout, chief of marine fisheries for the state of New Hampshire, identified the stinging sea creature as a Lion's Mane jellyfish and said it weighed over 40 pounds. The species is rarely seen so far south and in such shallow waters, he said.

In the northern New England region, Lion's Mane jellyfish average eight feet in diameter and can have tentacles as long as 150 feet.

"They can hurt," Grout said of the stings. "I wouldn't say they're deadly, but they provide discomfort."

Grout told the Associated Press the unusual sight of such a large jellyfish, and the sting it packs, contributed to the brief panic at the state park.

"I've lived here 30 years and this is the first one I've heard of washing up on a beach," Grout said. "A lot of people aren't used to running into these things. In northern New England they're fairly common, but they stay off shore."

Paramedics were called to the popular beach around 2 p.m., after several children and adults were stung in the water. Lifeguards asked swimmers to stay out of the water as some of the victims were treated at the beach and others were taken to the hospital.

Six of the children were brought to the hospital by ambulance and three were brought by parents. The majority of the children were from Camp Foster in Manchester, which had an outing at the state park, Galli said.

The children were enjoying Popsicles and being bathed in vinegar, which is a common treatment for jellyfish stings. They also were given antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications.

The jellyfish was netted by state park staff, an act which killed the giant creature almost immediately.

"They're 90 percent water," Grout said. "Once you pick them up they start falling apart."

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IN PICTURES: Giant jellyfish