Sunday, 16 June, 2019

Thousands stung in Australian jellyfish 'invasion', Latest World News

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish at Pakiri Beach Swarms of bluebottles have caused beaches to be closed in Queensland. Getty
Sandy Nunez | 08 January, 2019, 22:24

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

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

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. The aforementioned expert notes that typically, just 25,000 to 45,000 people are stung over the course of an entire year in all of Australia.

Surf Life Saving duty officer Jeremy Sturges said: "I have never seen anything like this-ever".

No fatalities have been confirmed and for most people the stings are harmless - albeit painful - but they can cause problems for those with allergies, as well as the young and the elderly.

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.

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Over the last week, around 13,000 stings were recorded on the Gold and Sunshine Coast regions, three times more than normal.

Unusually strong northeasterly swell conditions pushed the bluebottles onshore and they are clumped in their thousands along the shoreline.

What Do We Know About Bluebottles?

The "wall of bluebottles" - also known as Portuguese man o' war - swept Queensland's Gold and Sunshine coasts and was described as an "invasion" by local media.

"Those colonies also live in these armadas - sort of a population of the colonies - in the middle of the open ocean".

"Bluebottles have definitely been fairly active lately, pretty much throughout southeast Queensland", Dr Gershwin said.