Thousands stung on Australian beaches after 'invasion' of bluebottle jellyfish

Christopher Davidson
January 8, 2019

22,282 people sought medical treatment due to those blobby boys in the Sunshine State between December 1, 2018 and January 7, 2019, which is more than triple the number of punters who asked for help with a bluebottle sting over the same time period one year ago.

Swim spots in Queensland, Australia have been shut down after bluebottle jellyfish stung thousands of beach goers. More than 18,000 stings were recorded in Queensland in December, three times more cases than past year over the same period. People can be stung in the water or on sand.

According to the report, some 2630 people were stung across the weekend, with nearly 1000 hurt in a matter of hours on Sunday.

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.

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

They are most prevalent in sub-tropical regions but sometimes turn up en masse in North Queensland.

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

Bluebottle jellyfish washed up on Sidmouth beach in Devon, England in this illustrative image.

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish expert from Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, agreed it was unusual to see gatherings in such numbers.

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.

"They get picked up by the wind and blown as long as the wind keeps going or until they hit land and strand on the beaches, so that's when we see them obviously", she said.

"A bluebottle has that sail that sticks up - so the wind grabs the sail and drives them ashore", Dr Gershwin told the BBC.

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