Jellyfish stings in Australia

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The Irukandji Jellyfish is tiny, but very venomous.

Jellyfish stings in Australia can cause death, with there being several venomous species of jellyfish, such as the box jellyfish and Irukandji Jellyfish. Box jellyfish have caused more than 60 deaths in Australia in the past hundred years.[1] Bluebottles are not jellyfish, although they are often mistaken for them.

Numbers of stings[edit]

Irukandji are rarely found in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Between 1985 and 1997 from cases of Irukandji sting where location was recorded, there were 83.4% in Queensland, 9.1% in the Northern Territory, and 7.5% in Western Australia; 81.5% of cases occurred in the afternoon.[2] In a fourteen-year period there were 660 Irukandji stings in Australia, which were recorded by Dr Fenner, a medical officer with Surf Lifesaving Australia.[3] There were 159 Irukandji stings reported in Broome in a five-year period with 25% of those stung being hospitalised but no recorded deaths.[4] There were 62 people reported being stung by Irukandji in Cairns in 1996; of these more than half occurred in December, 92% were stung on hotter than average days, with 63% occurring while swimming inside a stinger net enclosure on the beach.[5] In summer 2001-02 there were 160 people stung by the middle of February, with around 100 of these in Cairns, and between 10 and 20 in Townsville, the Whitsundays, Great Keppel and Agnes Waters.[6]

List of fatal stings[edit]

This is a list of fatal jellyfish stings that occurred in Australian territorial waters by decade in reverse chronological order.


21st century[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
7yo girl Jan 2006 Umagico Beach near Bamaga,[7]
7yo boy Mar 2003 box jellyfish near Cairns,[8]
44yo male Apr 2002 Port Douglas, [1]
58yo male Jan 2002 Irukandji Jellyfish Hamilton Island, [2]

20th century[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
5yo boy Jan 1987 box jellyfish [9]
1955 box jellyfish Cardwell,[9]
1953 box jellyfish Saltwater Creek, Townsville [9]
1951 box jellyfish Kissing Point Baths, Townsville [9]
1949 box jellyfish North Mission Beach near Tully,[9]
1939 box jellyfish Coogarra and Proserpine,[9]
1937 box jellyfish Bramston Beach near Babinda,[9]
1934 box jellyfish Coogarra,[9]
1923 box jellyfish Proserpine,[9]
young male May 1911 Pioneer Bay,[10]

19th century[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
December 1884 box jellyfish Ross Creek, Townsville [9]

Non-fatal stings[edit]

Some jellyfish attacks which have appeared in reliable sources are listed below.


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
18yo girl March 2014 Port Macquarie, lucky to be alive nearly died has severe rash on right leg and doesn't stop complaining, the complaining is worst then the sting 3yo girl Dec 2008 Milingimbi, girl almost died, said to be lucky to survive.[11]
13yo boy 1968 box jellyfish Bramston Beach, Babinda, boy saved by CPR [12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chironex fleckeri (Box Jellyfish) NT Dept. of health and community services
  2. ^ Irukandji stings 1985/97 Marine Medic
  3. ^ Australian Jellyfish Port Douglas
  4. ^ Irukandji At Broome Beaches Kimberley Australia travel guide
  5. ^ A year's experience of Irukandji envenomation in far north Queensland Medical Journal of Australia, Mark Little and Richard F Mulcahy
  6. ^ Stinging Jellyfish in tropical Australia Reef Research Centre
  7. ^ Lifesavers sound warning after jellyfish death ABC News, Lifesavers sound warning after jellyfish death
  8. ^ Boy's death from box jellyfish 'avoidable', says expert SMH, 24 March 2003
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Venomous and poisonous marine animals: a medical and biological handbook 1996 p.42 By John A. Williamson, Joseph W. Burnett, Peter J. Fenner, Jacqueline F. Rifkin
  10. ^ A Lad's death, stung by a jellyfish The Mercury, 6 May 1911
  11. ^ Girl, 3, survives jellyfish sting Northern Territory news, 13 Dec 2008
  12. ^ Venomous and poisonous marine animals: a medical and biological handbook 1996 p.44 By John A. Williamson, Joseph W. Burnett, Peter J. Fenner, Jacqueline F. Rifkin

External links[edit]