Reports of jellyfish stings are significantly lower than last year.
Reports of jellyfish stings are significantly lower than last year.

Why jellyfish casualties have fallen

QUEENSLAND'S reputation as home to some of the world's most dangerous critters has lost a bit of sting.

Latest figures by Surf Life Saving Queensland shows ­significantly lower numbers of reported jellyfish stings compared with previous years.

Experts believe a big wet season, a lack of northerly winds favourable for jellyfish swarms and beach closures by vigilant lifeguards are behind the decline.

Weather conditions have played a part in a reduction in the number of reported jellyfish stings.
Weather conditions have played a part in a reduction in the number of reported jellyfish stings.

Along the length of the coast, there were 30,000 fewer non-fatal but painful blue bottle stings treated this season.

In the tropics, lifesavers believe swimmers are heeding the message to swim inside stinger nets or use stinger suits on the reef.

As the latest October-to-May marine stinger season comes to a close, the SLSQ data shows there was a total of 21 irukandji stings and five box jellyfish stings.

Notably, two of the irukandji stings and one box jellyfish sting hit unsuspecting swimmers at Fraser Island.

Marine experts believe it’s only a matter of time before the potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish moves as far south as the Sunshine Coast.
Marine experts believe it’s only a matter of time before the potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish moves as far south as the Sunshine Coast.

"Generally speaking, it's been a relatively quiet season as far as marine stingers go,'' SLSQ's regional manager Rob Davidson said.

"We place a lot of emphasis on proactive measures when it comes to safeguarding swimmers from any nasty stings.

"And that involves regular drags in and around the nets, and closing beaches when they are detected.''

The Gold Coast City Council lifeguards treated 10,148 stings (mostly blue bottles) from July, 2017, to April 30, 2018, with December and January the busiest months.

Marine stinger expert Jamie Seymour believes it is only a matter of time before irukandji move further south from Fraser Island to the Sunshine Coast.

Professor Seymour said there had been two deaths from Irukandji jellyfish - one at Opal Reef and one at Hamilton Island - in 2001 and 2002.

"Both people died from ­cerebral bleeds,'' he said.

The tropical waters of Queensland, north of Fraser Island, are home to some of the most dangerous marine stingers on Earth.

The box jellyfish (Chironex Fleckeri) is large and transparent with a box-shaped bell and up to 15 tentacles that can grow up to 3m in length. At least 64 people have died from its highly toxic venom in Australia since the 1880s, mostly due to cardiac arrest.

The irukandji is almost invisible, the size of a fingernail, but an initial minor sting can develop within 30 minutes into severe muscular pain, headache, vomiting and sweating.



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