A DIRE warning has been put in place for beachgoers on Queensland’s coast following fears a deadly threat may be invading the waters.
Experts fear the deadly Irukandji jellyfish may be migrating further down Australia’s east coast than ever before after one was captured near Fraser Island earlier this year.
The tiny creature is no bigger than a $2 coin and is a hyper-venomous species of box jellyfish.
It’s miniature size makes it almost impossible to spot in the water, and the species has been responsible for at least two deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations.
Irukandji jellyfish are typically only found in the waters of far north Queensland but with two being captured along southern parts of the state in the past two years there are fears that more people could be put at risk.
Climate Council Australia’sIcons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism report suggests they are likely to continue migrating further south than ever before.
“As ocean waters warm, many tropical marine species have been observed moving into subtropical waters, with Irukandji being observed as far south as Hervey Bay and Fraser Island as recently as January 2018,” the report states.
There are fears warming oceans and an extended Irukandji jellyfish season could see them popping up in tourist hot spots such as the Gold Coast.
Unlike most jellyfish, which only have stingers on their tentacles, the Irukandji jellyfish has them all over its body.
It also has four long tentacles that have the ability to fire stingers and inject venom into its victim.
Symptoms of one of these stings include severe pain lasting several hours, headaches, vomiting, stomach cramps and possible cardiac problems.
Jellyfish toxicologist Professor Jamie Seymour, who has been stung ten times by Irukandjis, has previously described the pain as a “10 out of 10”.
“There’s usually severe vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps and about 10-15 per cent of patients end up with cardiac problems,” Prof Seymour said.
“Linked with that is this feeling of impending doom where everything is going to go wrong and there’s nothing you can do to fix it.”
Irukandji stings have been known to cause heart failure and brain haemorrhages.
Anyone who is stung by one of these jellyfish should seek immediate medical attention and cover the sting area in vinegar as soon as possible.