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Fraser Island lifesavers concerned over increase in Irukandji jellyfish stings

Fraser Island lifesavers concerned over increase in Irukandji jellyfish stings
January 8, 2019

Surf lifesavers are conducting stinger sweeps at Wathumba Creek on the western side of Fraser Island after two more people were flown from the area to hospital with suspected Irukandji stings at the weekend.

The incidents takes the number of people taken to hospital with suspected Irukandji stings in Queensland so far this season to more than 20, almost double the 10-year average.

The Surf Life Saving Queensland Coordinator for Wide Bay, Julie Davies, said lifesavers had found several Irukandji in their sweeps on Fraser Island.

Davies advised “on the western side of Fraser Island from Moon Point up to Wathumba Creek, we're doing stinger drags to see if we can catch any samples.

“(We are) also going to the campers and letting them know that there is a possibility there could be something in the water.

"We have caught three (Irukandji) last week and then I was over there yesterday, and we caught another two."

Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service (AMSAS) Director Lisa Gershwin said Irukandji do not usually congregate around river mouths like Wathumba Creek, and the high number of stings in this location was more likely to do with the number of people.

"We don't have any association between Irukandjis and rivers.

"That wouldn't be the explanation for why people are being stung at Wathumba Creek. Maybe there are just a lot of people at Wathumba Creek."

Davies said the western side of Fraser Island was very busy with tourists during the school holidays, adding “so the chances of someone getting stung are greater, because the population is greater there.”

Davies said campers should always carry vinegar when four-wheel-driving on Fraser Island and consider wearing stinger suits.

Dr Gershwin said there was no evidence that any tropical Irukandji species had moved south.

Images: Lifesavers have found several Irukandji in their sweeps on Fraser Island over the weekend (top, courtesy of Surf Life Saving Queensland), an Irukandji jellyfish (middle) and a lifesaver wearing a stinger suit stands on a beach looking for Irukandji jellyfish in water inside a plastic container (below, courtesy of Surf Life Saving Queensland).

Related Articles

7th January 2019 - Thousands stung as record numbers of bluebottles swarm on southern Queensland beaches

2nd January 2019 - Airlie Beach lagoon drowning prompts Worksafe Queensland advice

18th November 2018 - Wi-Fi alerts to keep Queensland beachgoers safe this summer

7th February 2018 - New snorkelling and diving Code of Practice now in force in Queensland

10th January 2018 - Fraser Island Irukandji jellyfish discovery leads to warnings to swimmers

24th April 2017 - Fraser Island National Park renaming recognises Traditional Owners

3rd March 2017 - Record summer visits but no drownings on Queensland beaches

30th December 2016 - Swimmers warned over southerly spread of irukandji jellyfish

20th June 2016 - Cape York and Fraser Island World Heritage nominations to progress

15th May 2014 - Irukandji ‘forecast’ to warn Australian swimmers about presence of deadly stingers

20th December 2013 - North Queensland trial for Irukandji jellyfish warning system

18th March 2010 - Tourists threaten ‘dingo extinction’ on Fraser Island

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