Irukandji jellyfish discovery off Fraser Island

Swellnet Dispatch

An irukandji jellyfish has been found off the coast of Fraser Island for the second time in two years.

Can you spot the deadly jellyfish in this jar? Photo: ABC News

Lifeguards were dragging the deadly jellyfish off the island's west coast on Sunday in response to a spate of stings in the Wide Bay last summer.

James Cook University Professor Jamie Seymour said there was a lot still not known about the number and types of the irukandji species in the region.

"There's not a huge chance of being stung, however there are specific places along the east coast of Australia and Queensland that you definitely do not want to swim because that's where you're going to get stung," he said.

"The trick is for us to work that out, and there seems to be a couple of spots on the west coast of Fraser that are very specific."

Read Stu Nettle's 2015 article: "Ocean acidification and the rise of jellyfish"

Professor Seymour previously described a sting from an irukandji jellyfish as overwhelming.

"This is a 10 out of 10 pain that you are going to hang onto for probably six to 12 hours," he said.

"There's usually severe vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps and about 10 to 15 per cent of patients end up with cardiac problems.

"Linked with that is this feeling of impending doom where everything is going to go wrong and there's nothing you can do to fix it."

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) regional manager Craig Holden said beachgoers in the area should be extra vigilant.

"We're urging everyone to stay out of the water entirely on that western side of the island while conditions are hot and humid," he said.

"If anyone is stung on Fraser Island they should douse the area with vinegar as soon as possible and immediately call triple-0 to seek emergency medical assistance.

"We don't want to cause widespread panic, but it is really important for people to exercise caution and put safety first at all times. This includes taking a bottle of vinegar with you if you are heading to the island, to be prepared to treat a sting."

Mr Holden said SLSQ would continue to conduct daily stinger drags on the western side of Fraser Island, while informing campers and beachgoers in the area on the risks associated on entering the water and handing out marine stinger treatment information.

Stinger safety tips:

  • Wear protective clothing (wet suit or Lycra body suit), to reduce exposure to potential stings
  • Protect your face and avoid putting your head underwater at high-risk locations
  • In the absence of a full Lycra suit, wear other protective clothing such as long pants tucked into socks
  • Enter water slowly as marine stingers will often swim away from people given the opportunity and time
  • If you are planning a trip to Fraser Island, take vinegar with you

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 3:53pm

10 hours of ultimate pain . Cardiac problems and crippling belief in impending doom.

I really do not want to be stung by this bastard.

As much as I laugh dismissively at foreigners fears of Australian wildlife , I've got to admit that they might have a point.

Sort of exciting though. The fact that the Aussie soil/ water that we live and breathe could take us out whenever it feels the urge.

So stoked we don't have a big land carnivore though. And I'm glad we don't have bears.

Or monkeys. Monkeys are trouble.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 4:02pm

Yeah the ability to roll out the swag anywhere in the country (croc territory excluded) without worrying about bears etc is everything.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 4:24pm

Yes, and Mountain Lions.
They can go to hell.
Incredible animals but stealthy as all fuck

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 6:52pm

Listened to an Irukandji scientist get interviewed on Conversations a few years ago. While collecting specimens he got lightly brushed across his top lip while 10kms offshore and far from help. He knew he had about 20 mins till it hit but there was nothing he could do but brace himself and wait for the ride to begin. His description of the pain always stayed with me (paraphrasing): "The pain was that bad that if someone passed me a gun I would've shot myself."

As they say in the classics, fuck that.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 8:24pm

There was a old documentary when I grew up (maybe Ben Cropp) on box jellyfish and how he'd heard it was the worst pain ever so he thought he would just take a little sting on the arm to try. Possibly the most horrifying/hilarious thing I've seen. Screaming in pain, doubling him over and dropping him to his knees, they cut to him propped up in a hospital bed where he sheepishly admits that's the stupidest thing he's ever done and he can't even begin to describe the pain. You're right, fuck that.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 1:34pm

Wow! Sounds heavy.

Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41 commented Sunday, 21 Jan 2018 at 2:32am

Agree I have the unfortunate pleasure of watching a few camping trips go wrong online.
Bears seem to take their time not nice..
Although we surf so a fking shark is basically the same thing for us.
Going for a wave is the equivalent of a hike with a bear in the woods.

the_b's picture
the_b's picture
the_b commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 6:45pm

I have read they dont like turbulent waters as they are so fragile, so surf zones may not be too much of an issue?

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 8:25pm

watching a show on the pearl diving out from broome and the divers have got to wear full suits so they hopefully dont get stung by the of the divers did,fairly common occurrence supposedly but when it happens they hit em up with morphine cause the pains 10/10........


esaltau's picture
esaltau's picture
esaltau commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 8:13pm

The biggest danger on Fraser’s west coast is crocodiles. Several are removed every year. The national park keep it hushed. Same issue: warming water and more crocs further north will lead to more coming further south.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 9:15am

Hmmm im skeptical about this i lived on Fraser Island for a few years and never heard this, i still have really good friends there I've got to ring them on the weekend i will ask the question.

They are always going in the creeks and mudflats inlets on the west coast as put mudcrab pots in there and sometimes net prawns i use to go over with them and also fished in the area a lot, beautiful area of the world, but the midgeys and mozzies are the worst ever.

I think the odd Barra has been caught though.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 11:02pm

Could we be describing the local Quandamooka "Morbakka" (Irukandji)...
Very similar but a fraction less deadly.
Only that every summer that I can remember we have a similar misunderstanding.
Local Saltwater crew correct white folk that are quick to believe this as a new comming.
A little bit like our Border Security [Man v Kracken Sign]. Now that's a stinger sign!

Grab a pen here's some Morbakka stinger safety firsts. Naturally another Swellnet Exclusive.

*Morbakka local Irukandji ranges from Moreton Bay to Great Keppel Island onto Agnes Water
*The short peak season runs from (Mid December to Mid January).
*Then a short 1 month rebuilding spell before a 2nd lesser wave (Mid February to Mid March)
*Never wade barefoot in shallow N/W creeks of Fraser/Bribie/Moreton/Straddie Islands
*Never ever wade barefoot on Fraser Island- Platypus Bay + Creeks during above times.

Mass Attack!
12/March/2012 When on Bribie Island, 5 teens were stung together-Mass evac' to hospital.
Note: Young are victims as they spend longer time wading than adults.

Above research is sourced from available local news records of stings from 2009-2015
(Averaging half a dozen stings per season)
Unreported Stings,I couldn't say. Note stings are on isolated Islands.
IMPORTANT: (This guide is not official research or safety advice). Refer to Qld/local Govts.
Happy to share to follow SLSQ advice and do take care...Great Gig Swellnet!

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 12:04am

Thanks trueblue!
Spent a lot time around that area for employment reasons. Seen some big tiger sharks far to close for comfort. Luckily no stings from the "morbakka" .
Will definitely be more aware of the problem areas.
Always carry a first aid kit and a big bottle of vinegar.

Optimist's picture
Optimist's picture
Optimist commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 5:58am

Just had a terrible vision of the future when I walked into a sunshine coast coffee shop after a surf and couldn't tell the difference between the surfers and the cyclists...Ha.
Reading this story reminded me of a surfer I met many years ago....A really nice guy and has a box jelly story to blow your mind..Worth the watch, just persevere through the opening bit.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 2:56pm

Cheers Lanky Dean but full credit goes to Swellnet for caring to run the story.
Can't hide the fact my 2015 end date reveals my research has been mothballed.
It is strictly due to this Swellnet article that above research is now made public.
Updating that stings increased to 10 people in local waters just last season.(1 per week)

At this time I wish to clarify that Morbakka are a larger Irukandji but can also be as small.
The above Specimen is what it is. I'm no Marine Biologist and always salute Lifeguards.

INVASION: Moreton Bay April/11/2002 (Outside of season)No stings thankfully.
Tally with MASS ATTACK of 5 teens in March on Bribie Island for end mass cycle.
A worrying Easter event! To Escape winter a mass suicidal crossing of The Bay north! Ideas?

Killer Long Tentacled Bluebottles are also to be avoided.
As a nipper I blacked out in a wade race and woke up in a tent with a triple wrap chest welt.

More recently at Snapper I toe spiked a ray at the Quay...
Leg ballooned near twice the size and stiff as a log and went more purple than purple.
My Pain was a 9 demanding up is 10 = Screaming for Gun begging death
Anyhow about 6 hrs on I hobbled gingerly from hospital.
Pain,venom,swelling and disability remained localized around sting site for 4-5 years after.
Painfully obvious that these smaller critters don't want us taking their secret spot.

Saltwater crew I spoke of would have a suite of options.
(Prevention) Local crew sensing danger reached into dilly' throwing stones ahead to ward off evil spirits on wrong path also whilst crossing river to ward off sharks.
I'm guessin' to clear the shallows of jellies and Rays in this manner.(Just a thought)

(Cures) Considering you can't remove toxin (easily). This applies for pain relief & healing.
IMPORTANT ! Remedies are not approved by Qld Health...Note:( Isolated last resort use only)

For respite from Jelly Stingers apply Swamp Lilly (crushed)
For respite from Stingrays apply Grey Mangrove (Leaves,Shoots and wrap in same bark)
note: Don't boil mixtures & Don't rub mixture into welts.

1st & Foremost follow QLD Health/SLSQ stinger advice. Again...Thanks for caring Swellnet.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 3:06pm

Whoops! Sorry guys..[Correction] INVASION DAY (Moreton Bay) was in 2012

yogii's picture
yogii's picture
yogii commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 6:35pm

Talk about crowd control... the punters can stick to the wave pools and leave the waves to us guys who don’t mind a bit of crippling pain and cardiac arrest.

Quick - everyone turn on all the lights in your house, turn up the air conditioning and go for a drive - let’s heat this bad boy up!