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Jellyfish Squish

Savannah man develops remedy for brushes with jellyfish

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May 8, 2008 - Savannah Morning News

Savannah man develops remedy for brushes with jellyfish

A Savannah entrepreneur is aiming to take the sting out of swimming at the beach.

Chip Grayson is marketing Jellyfish Squish, a formula he developed that he says eliminates the pain of a jellyfish encounter.

Grayson, who owned and managed a local office supply company for decades, admits he's no scientist.

But he did recruit marine biologists to test Jellyfish Squish. Dick Lee and Peter Verity of Skidaway Institute compared Grayson's product to typical home remedies.

Using sea wasps and sea nettles captured from local waters they draped tentacles on their forearms and suffered the resultant stings. Then they applied vinegar, ammonia, meat tenderizer and urea (a substitute for urine) in turn. These remedies were all virtually useless, said Lee, a professor at Skidaway Institute.

"Not only did it not provide relief, in many cases it made the pain more excruciating," Lee said.

That's because an alteration in pH or salinity can fire off any untriggered stinging capsules, called nematocysts, that remain on the skin, Verity said.

Jellyfish Squish, on the other hand, did the trick.

"It certainly was painful and it was clear Squish helped alleviate the pain," Lee said.

Lee and Verity tested the product out of scientific curiosity and were not paid for their work. Neither were about six volunteers they recruited for a double-blind follow-up test that gave the same results.

The product also has won the endorsement of the American Lifeguard Association.

Grayson won't reveal what's in his over-the-counter product, except to say it contains the maximum allowable amount of lidocaine, a numbing agent.

The Savannah native was on the verge of retirement, having sold his business forms company, when Jellyfish Squish started to come together.

Its development stemmed from memories of being stung as a child and from later seeing other children, including his own daughter, writhe in pain from a sting while adults stood by helplessly.

"It seemed like it was so common but nobody knew what to do," he said.

He says he had an "aha" moment remembering some tidbits from high school chemistry and college biology classes that led him to develop Jellyfish Squish. That led the privately held Coastal Solutions Inc. to develop and market Jellyfish Squish, the company's flagship product. The company is also addressing other painful, itchy situations by repackaging the solution as Fire Ant Coolant, Chigger Chaser and Bite Blaster.

"It's basically the same formula," Grayson said.

He's raised start-up funds of more than $1 million, some of it from his own savings, to launch the products. They're manufactured and distributed from Dallas.

The Army and Airforce Exchange Service has bought the product, as well as the Navy exchange service. Several large retailers also have placed orders, including Walgreen Drug Stores.

A 4-ounce spray bottle of Jellyfish Squish retails for $9.99. It's available at area Enmark stores as well as other retail outlets and will soon be available for online orders at

Mary Landers

Jellyfish season

The peak season for stinging jellyfish along the Georgia coast is August. Be especially cautious when an incoming tide pushes jellyfish toward shore.

During the spring, there are often millions of harmless, but big, cannonball jellyfish in Southeast waters. They look like a cross between a clear cannonball and a head of cabbage. Dangerous Man-o-wars are rarely a threat here.

Jellyfish appear to be increasing in number worldwide, according to Peter Verity of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Global warming may be contributing to the increase. So may an added input of nutrients from polluted runoff into the oceans, a real worry in Georgia waters.

"Nutrients coming in provides the kind of food web that leads to jellyfish," Verity said.

Sources: and Peter Verity, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

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