- Education and Science»
- Life Sciences»
- Marine Biology
Dangerous and Deadly Jellyfish of Australia
Beware! Danger in the Water
Lots of people are afraid of sharks in Australian waters, although the prospect of being attacked by a shark is only slightly more probable than the chances of a meteorite falling on your head.
It's unlikely you will be taken by a crocodile either. Sydney Funnel Web Spiders and Redback Spiders have caused human deaths, but not since anti-venoms were made available in 1981. And if you're lucky enough to see a snake - it's only a friendly Aussie saying G'day, just don't try to pick it up
But you can, very easily, be fatally stung by a harmless looking jellyfish.
Danger on unspoiled beaches
Australia has glorious beaches. There are beautiful areas of seeming tranquility, especially on the long stretches of golden sands with not a trace of humans to be seen, a sight which always entices the unwary traveler.
But beware! There's danger in the water
Three Safety Rules to Follow
- 1. Read the Signs
- 2. Never swim at night, and never swim alone
- 3. Have a bottle of vinegar close by
If someone is stung
Call for Help - Phone 000
Yell for a lifeguard
Treat the victim - CPR
Treat the Sting - flood with vinegar
One of the most lethal creatures in the world
One of the most lethal creatures found in the world is the box jellyfish. It's certainly the the most venomous of marine animals and kills more people than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.
These little blobs of jelly may look harmless enough, but they can shoot off poison-tipped darts before you have time to blink.
They can kill a child instantly and they will give you a fatal heart attack.
These blobby creatures are active, visual hunters seeking prey all year round, but particularly from October to June. Their extremely sophisticated eyes can see pretty much across the entire light spectrum and their vision is better than most birds. They will see you before you see them.
Dangerous Creatures of Australia
Box Jellyfish - Video - Close Up and Personal
The Consequences of a Sting
Stings from a box jellyfish have these very severe consequences
- cardiotoxic - effect on the heart
- neurotoxic - damage to the nerves
- dermatonecrotic - effect on the skin
What does that mean?
Firstly, you will most likely suffer cardiac arrest within minutes. Three metres of tentacles touching your skin is quite enough to be fatal.
Even if your heart hasn't stopped in the brief moments after being stung, then the pain is so excruciating and overwhelming that you immediately go into shock. The result is fatal if you're swimming alone. The chances of being stung and making it back to shore are nearly impossible.
The tentacles stick tightly to the skin and continue to release venom if not treated correctly and rapidly, compounding all the other horrors of the sting. Any attempt at removal of the tentacles while they are still active will worsen the sting and lead to greater injuries.
Severe stings lead to necrosis of the affected tissue, your skin is literally eaten away. The very few lucky survivors display deep and dreadful scars.
The severity of a sting depends on the size of the box jellyfish, the amount of tentacles involved, and the individual victim. Children are obviously more vulnerable, but older people and anyone who is not in prime physical condition has little hope.
What to do if someone is stung
Victims of the box jellyfish quickly go into cardiac arrest. CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) takes priority over everything else.
Get someone to call an ambulance! Dial 000
The victim will be in an enormous amount of pain, quite possibly hysterical. Some may be uncontrollable. The tentacles will still be on the victim, looking like worms, or ribbons, the sting marks will look like whip-marks, swollen and red. Within a few minutes the marks will go frosty white as the skin dies.
Don't pull the tentacles off!!
Pour ordinary vinegar over the tentacles for at least 30 seconds. Only then can they be removed, otherwise you will just cause more venom to be released.
Many beaches where box jellyfish are present will have a bottle of vinegar stored on the beach next to the warning signs.
Ordinary domestic vinegar has saved scores of lives. It's the only remedy for box jellyfish sting
Yes, Marine Stingers are Dangerous!
Even small, almost invisible, box jellyfish are dangerous.
Irukandji Syndrome is a condition caused by the sting of the Irukandji, a very small box jellyfish. There is no anti-venom.
If quickly and properly treated a single sting is normally not fatal, but at least two people have died from Irukandji sting.
As the jellyfish is very small, and as the venom is only injected through the tips of the tentacles instead of the entire lengths, the sting may barely be noticed and can feel like little more than a mosquito bite.
The basic symptoms develop within 20 to 30 minutes after being stung. They include severe low back pain; excruciating muscle cramps in arms, legs, belly and chest; sweating, nausea, anxiety, restlessness, vomiting, and headache.
Next to develop is severe hypertension, or high blood pressure, and at least one person died from brain haemorrhage within 30 hours after being stung.
Once again, flush the affected skin with vinegar.
Box Jellyfish on the Move
- Killer Jellyfish Population Explosion
The really bad news is that the box jellyfish and another equally poisonous species, Irukandji, are on the move. Scientists are warning that their populations are exploding and will pose a monumental problem unless they are stopped.
- Box Jellyfish Warning for Thailand Waters
Previously it was thought that the box jellyfish was only around in Australian waters but they are on the migration path around various parts of the Asia pacific region.
What did you think would be dangerous?
What did you imagine to be the most dangerous creature on Australian beaches?
I hope you picked up some safety rules for Australian beaches and know how to protect yourself from box jellyfish sting!
All comments are appreciated.