Australian beaches close amid jellyfish sting uptick

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish at Pakiri Beach

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish at Pakiri Beach

Several Australian beaches have closed down amid a unsafe invasion of highly venomous jellyfish that have stung more than 3,000 people in just a few days.

Swim spots in Queensland, Australia have been shut down after bluebottle jellyfish stung thousands of beach goers. And between December 1 and January 7, 22,282 people were stung across Queensland-compared to 6,831 during that same period the year prior.

"If you're stung by a bluebottle try and pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs".

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.

In a matter of hours on Sunday, 476 bluebottle stings were treated on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast.

Fortunately, most of the stings were caused by so-called bluebottle colonies, which are not life threatening. Several of those stung suffered anaphylactic shock.

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

Unusually strong winds pushed the jellyfish colonies close to shore.

What Do We Know About Bluebottles?

Bluebottle jellyfish, also known as Portuguese man o'war, are often seen on Australia's east coast during summer.

Gershwin said the striking blue jellyfish lived in armadas in the middle of the ocean and had trailing tentacles and a keel-like crest that acts like a sail.

Lifesavers described the jellyfish on one beach as being like "a wall", and wrote on Twitter that the invasion was due to northeasterly winds.

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

"Bluebottles have definitely been fairly active lately, pretty much throughout southeast Queensland", Dr Gershwin said.

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