A marine bluebottle.
A marine bluebottle. Trevor Veale

Coast escapes worst of bluebottle armada

STUNNING summer conditions through the height of the school holiday has seen "huge crowds” flock to the beach, and they have been lucky to escape a bluebottle influx.

"Temperatures have been scorching and conditions have been perfect for swimming,” Northern New South Wales lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said.

With northerly winds blowing on-and-off for more than a week, lifeguards expected to see an influx of the notorious bright blue stingers, but that has not been the case.

"It's a bit strange,” Mr McCartney said.

"We expected a bit more bluebottle interaction with the swimmers. We've been lucky.”

Lifeguards on the southern end of the Gold Coast have also seen fewer bluebottles than expected, saying a swing between north-westerly and north-easterly winds may have been the reason.

Mr McCartney said the north-easterly winds had only been blowing up in the afternoons, and that was the time when people were more commonly seeking help for stings.

"I was up at Kingscliff (on Thursday) and there was nothing until the late afternoon, then we had a few kids and adults come in,” Mr McCartney said. "There's not many (bluebottles) about but some of them have a pretty decent sting.

"It freaks people out when they're not expecting it, and often, if they're not familiar with the area, they'll think of the worst-case scenario like irukandji or box jellyfish.”

Bluebottle stings are not usually serious, but can cause a lot of pain and a rash, and hit children, asthmatics and people with allergies much harder.

As the scorching summer weather continues, Mr McCartney urged beach-goers to always swim between the red and yellow flags.

"Even when it's quite flat, as soon as the tide changes it can cause rips and undertows and that's where people kind of come unstuck really quickly,” he said.

If you are stung by a bluebottle, remove the tentacles from the skin, wash the sting site with seawater and immerse in hot water. Apply ice if hot water is unavailable. Do not rub the area; seek medical advice if necessary.



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