Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Science | By

Over 3,500 people stung by jellyfish on Australian beaches

Over 3,500 people stung by jellyfish on Australian beaches

Despite Australia's total or partial beach closures, folks are still feeling the wrath of these bluebottles, the sting of which can lead to red welts on the skin, muscle cramps, elevated heart rates, and vomiting.

Across Queensland, but mostly in the southeast, 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to 6831 in the same period past year.

Multiple beaches in eastern Australia have been closed because of an increase in jellyfish stings, authorities said on Monday.

Most of those stung were on the famed Gold Coast, while other people were stung on the Sunshine Coast, located north of Brisbane.

Several Australian beaches have closed down amid a risky invasion of highly venomous jellyfish that have stung more than 3,000 people in just a few days.

Surf Life Saving duty officer Jeremy Sturges described the phenomenon as an "epidemic", telling Australian media: "I have never seen anything like this - ever".

Surf Life Saving Queensland issued a "major bluebottle warning" and a spokesperson said that if stung, remove stingers, take a very hot shower and apply ice.

According to Nine News, several people suffered anaphylactic shock and were treated by paramedics during the weekend. While researchers are still examining how much recent heat waves may have contributed to the current jellyfish bloom off Australia's coasts, they can already say with certainty how they got to the beaches: strong and unusual winds pushing toward Queensland.

Sometimes confused with larger, more venomous Atlantic cousin, Physalia physalis (or Portuguese Man o' War), the common bluebottle is known as Physalia utriculus.

The aquatic creatures are found in the marine waters in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and typically encountered in summer months along the country's eastern coast.

"People have been hurt as they just walk along the shoreline,"Sturges said. Don't pick it up, don't walk on it or you will be stung", Sturges said".

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