Queensland's tropical waters hold some of the most lethal stingers all year round. Between October & May, as the water warms up, the different forms of Jellyfish can be found close inshore where unsuspecting bathers can find themselves with a nasty sting.
There are two Jellyfish species that can be particularly troubling, the Irukandji Jellyfish and the Box Jellyfish.
Irukandji JellyfishThe Irukandji Jellyfish are tiny, and often go unnoticed, they span a total width of 2cm in diameter. They are commonly found in the waters of beaches in North Queensland. Sometimes referred to as the silent killers, when stung by a Irukandji Jellyfish, the sting may be disregarded, the initial sting is not very painful and may even go unnoticed, however, 30 minutes after the initial sting, symptoms such as severe back and abdomen pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting will prevail.
Box JellyfishCommonly found in the water of North Gladstone, the Box Jellyfish will inflict a sting that leaves excruciating pain and immediate scarring. They breed up rivers in Mangrove swamps, after rainfall, they're often flushed out of rivers into the beaches. Unlike the Irukandji Jellyfish, the Box have tentacles that can grow up to 3m in length!
PrecautionsBoth of these species are lethal and can be avoided with a couple of simple precautionary measures;
- Always wear a stinger suit when snorkelling, diving or swimming. This will protect 90% of your body from any stings, plus keep the sun off and keep you highly visible.
- Swim in stinger nets. Stinger resistant enclosure are commonly found in QLD's northern beaches. The also greatly reduct the risk of being sting.
- Slow Water Entry. Box Jellyfish will often swim backwards, away from slow moving people in the water. Running into the water makes this impossible.
- Always swim on a patrolled beach. Constant beach monitoring is undertaken on patrolled beaches and all the right medical equipment to treat a potential fatal sting is on hand.