Friday, 18 January, 2019

Thousands of Queensland beachgoers stung — Bluebottle jellyfish

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish at Pakiri Beach Swarms of bluebottles have caused beaches to be closed in Queensland. Getty
Theresa Hayes | 08 January, 2019, 22:27

More than 5000 people were stung by bluebottles on Queensland's Gold and Sunshine coasts in a single weekend.

Vast numbers of bluebottle jellyfish have swarmed beaches in Queensland, Australia, stinging thousands of people and forcing the closure of swim spots.

Dr Gershwin said the rarity of the phantom jellyfish makes it hard to determine if they are responsible for the more severe stings attributed to bluebottles, but it's not out of the question.

According to Nine News, several people suffered anaphylactic shock and were treated by paramedics during the weekend.

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

"Not everyone reacts the same way but there have been very serious reactions".

Unusually strong winds pushed the jellyfish colonies close to shore.

Bluebottle invasion. Picture: Bob Barker.

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

A sting from the bluebottle jellyfish can be painful, but not life-threatening.

"They're back", the service's Twitter post read.

Lisa Gershwin, who works with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is Australia's national science agency, said that the surge in stings is unlikely to be coincidental. "Avoid using vinegar if it's clearly a bluebottle sting".

It is less straightforward to treat stings from the fearsome Irukandji variety of jellyfish, however.

Most of the encounters happened in the popular Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.

"Some of the bluebottle sails are right-handed and some are left-handed, across the body, so when the wind comes up it only grabs the ones with the sail going the right way for that particular breeze".

"Due to the northeasterly winds, we will continue to see bluebottles hanging around", the agency said in a separate post.