Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Thousands stung in jellyfish invasion in Australia's Queensland

Thousands stung in jellyfish invasion in Australia's Queensland

Vast numbers of bluebottle jellyfish have swarmed beaches in Queensland, Australia, stinging thousands of people and forcing the closure of swim spots. The Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service (AMSAS) states 22 people have been admitted to hospital in the state in recent weeks with suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings, which is well above the ten-year average.

Coastguard association Surf Life Saving said a "whopping" 3,595 people had suffered painful burns after encounters with the creatures, also known as bluebottles for their transparent bluish appearance.

Speaking to ABC, AMSAS director Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin said some swimmers who were hospitalised after suffering a suspected allergic reaction to a bluebottle sting may have actually been hit by the bluebottle's larger relative, which boasts multiple stingers - and can cause symptoms easily mistaken for anaphylactic shock.

"I have never seen anything like this - ever", Sturges said.

On Sunday alone, lifesavers treated 476 bluebottle stings on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast to the north.

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"Unusually strong wind conditions are causing bluebottles to come closer to shore", the aquatic rescue authority tweeted on Saturday. More recently, a woman swimming off a beach near Sardinia died following a bluebottle sting.

Most incidents took place in Queensland's heavily populated Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.

The blue fringes and the long blue tentacles of the bluebottle is a colony, not an individual which lives in armadas in the ocean and had trailing tentacles and a keel-like crest that acts like a sail, Australian Associated Press reported.

The influx of jellyfish has been described as an "invasion" by local media in Queensland.

"Bluebottles have definitely been fairly active lately, pretty much throughout southeast Queensland", Gershwin said. "If stung, ensure you see a lifeguard to be treated with ice or hot water".

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