A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish is placed next to match sticks to provide a size comparison in this photo taken at James Cook University in Cairns.
A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish is placed next to match sticks to provide a size comparison in this photo taken at James Cook University in Cairns. Brian Cassey

Irukandji jellyfish warning issued

BEACHGOERS on the Sunshine Coast have been warned to prepare for possible irukandji jellyfish stings this summer.

Seven people were airlifted from Fraser Island with suspected irukandji stings this time last year.

RACQ Careflight doctor Todd Fraser said similar stings could occur at Fraser or further south this year.

Dr Fraser said the irukandji was one of the more serious stings encountered in Queensland waters.

Although it was difficult to positively identify irukandji stings, the symptoms suffered by swimmers at Fraser Island last year were irukandji-like, he said.

"Unfortunately, you don't usually have access to the jellyfish because it's so small that people don't see it sting them and the sting at the time is minor. It's half an hour later that symptoms develop," he said.

Dr Fraser said irukandji sting symptoms included generalised pain, headache, vomiting, sweating, and sometimes high blood pressure and chest pain.

If someone suffered a suspected irukandji sting, any tentacles should be removed and the affected area should be doused with vinegar before calling 000, he said.

Dr Fraser said vinegar should not be used for common stings from non-lethal jellyfish and bluebottles.

About the jellyfish:

  • Are only 1-2 cubic cm.
  • Have venom 100 times more potent than a cobra and 1000 times more potent than a tarantula.
  • Unlike other jellyfish, have stingers on the bellpiece as well as their tentacles.


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