Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Invasion of the jellyfish: 13,000 beach goers stung in just one week

Thousands of Queenslanders have been stung by bluebottles this weekend Camera Icon Thousands of Queenslanders have been stung by bluebottles this
Doris Mccormick | 08 January, 2019, 22:27

The BBC reports that more than 2,600 people were treated over the weekend, while about 13,000 stings were reported over the past week.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-Authorities in Queensland, Australia, were forced to close beaches across the region over the weekend, amid what local officials said was a jellyfish "epidemic".

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 previous year.

Twenty-two people have been taken to hospital with suspected Irukandji stings in Queensland so far this season.

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

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.

"Those figures, the 22,282, are for about five weeks and that's just one teeny tiny smidgen of Australia, so that is a lot".

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Several swimmers suffered anaphylactic shock and were attended to by paramedics.

In a matter of hours on Sunday, 476 bluebottle stings were treated on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast.

Bluebottle jellyfish colonies appear like blue-tinged sacs which measure up to 15 cm long.

The epicentre has been the popular beaches on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland, but beaches in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have also been affected.

"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". 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.

If you've recently emerged from the waters of Queensland wrapped up in bluebottle stings, you not alone.

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