Environment

Irukandji warning: deadly jellyfish are going to be ‘fired up’ by north Queensland’s big wet

Irukandji jellyfish may very well be elusive during far north Queensland’s big wet but they are set to return in big numbers in the event the sun is released.

After they forced the closure of two northern Queensland beaches last weekend, including Ellis Beach near Cairns when a teenage girl was admitted to hospital with stings to her torso, no irukandji were spotted in swimming areas since.

One from the world’s deadliest creatures, the tiny box jellyfish prefer calm, warm waters and have a tendency back off during heavy rainfall, with a bit of far north areas receiving approximately 200mm since Boxing Day.

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But the chance of irukandji stings will increase after the rain stops, based on a James Cook university toxicologist, Prof Jamie Seymour. “All this rain, it’ll fire all jellyfish up,” he was quoted saying.

“What you are inclined to find is get ess had big rainfall events, like we’re having right now, we’ll have numerous jellyfish, assuming weather settles back down. Once we don’t end up being rain, we get minuscule amounts of irukandji.”

Seymour said Queensland had recorded almost 20 irukandji stings this coming year, including four off Fraser Island.

“It is above average,” he explained. “In Cairns, we’ve had no less than seven stings. On this occasion in 2009 we’d one.

“The season happens to be longer. 5o years ago all seasons involved a month. Now, it can be 5-6 months. It correlates quite nicely with increasing water temperature.”

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