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Thousands of Queensland beachgoers stung — Bluebottle jellyfish

08 January 2019

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) said over 2,600 were treated for stings last weekend alone, in what it described as an "epidemic", ABC News reported.

Multiple beaches in eastern Australia have been closed because of an increase in jellyfish stings, authorities said on Monday.

About 13,000 stings were recorded in the past week - three times more than in the corresponding period a year ago.

Labelled an "invasion" by local media, the bluebottles have stung both swimmers in shallow water and those who accidentally trod on the creatures while walking on the sand.

That number is expected to rise, however, as the coastguard association Surf Life Saving said even more jellyfish are on their way thanks to north easterly winds working in their favour. Parademics and lifesavers treated thousands of people in which many had suffered anaphylactic shock.

Nearly a thousand people fell foul of marine stingers in a matter of hours on Sunday afternoon, with 476 treated on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast.

Unusually strong winds pushed the jellyfish colonies close to shore.

According to the association, 22,282 people were treated for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7 compared to 6,381 in the same period a year ago.

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

What Do We Know About Bluebottles?

"When you look at a bluebottle, and you see the bubble and the blue fringes and the long blue tentacles, that is actually a colony, that is not an individual", he said.

Sometimes confused with larger, more venomous Atlantic cousin, Physalia physalis (or Portuguese Man o' War), the common bluebottle is known as Physalia utriculus.

Bluebottle armadas travel the ocean's surface at the mercy of wind.

Most incidents took place in Queensland's heavily populated Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.

Thousands of Queensland beachgoers stung — Bluebottle jellyfish