Beware of those things that sting in the sea

After reading or hearing all the news about stingers invading Queensland’s beaches it is only natural that swimmers on our coast are wary. Beach goers in the ‘sunshine state’ have not only had to suffer billions of Bluebottle stings, there has also been a larger than usual number of Irukandji stings.

Irukandjis (there are about 16 species) are thankfully all tropical. Despite their cube-shaped bells being only the size of a thimble their four tentacles can be up to a metre long. Anyone coming in contact with them can expect a delayed but extremely painful sting and often other nasty symptoms ranging from severe headache, backache and nausea to cardiac arrest. Meanwhile the patient is convinced they are going to die.

We have a local species of box jelly the Jimble (Carybdea rastoni) that is not much bigger than the Irukandjis but thankfully the stings are much less painful. Sharon Kelly saw some recently at Bermagui and Jane Elek, Nature Coast Marine Group's secretary, photographed some that were stranded on South Broulee beach last year.

Jimble (Carybdea rastoni) photo by Jane Elek

The recommended treatment for Jimble stings is to wash the affected area with vinegar, safely remove any clinging tentacles with tweezers or a gloved hand, and apply a cold pack to relieve the pain. Vinegar is not recommended for Bluebottle stings.

For Bluebottle stings wash the area with sea water, safely remove any tentacles and apply hot water for about 20 minutes.


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