Posted by: traveljunkies | December 28, 2009

Huge box jellyfish caught off Cairns beaches

TWO “huge” box jellyfish, capable of killing a human in less than two minutes, have washed up on two of the Far North’s most popular swimming beaches.

Ideal weather conditions have resulted in an influx of deadly box jellyfish with two 30cm-wide specimens washing up on Clifton Beach and Kewarra Beach in recent days.

Pictures: Jellyfish found near Cairns

Their arrival has prompted dire warnings from Far Northern lifeguards and marine experts.

North Queensland lifeguard supervisor Jay March said recent weather conditions – flat seas, northerly winds and clear water – were perfect for box jellyfish to become more
prevalent.

He said the recent findings should serve as a timely reminder to all Far Northern beachgoers not to get complacent about swimming dangers.

“We just want to get the message out there to swim in the nets at all times,” Mr March said. “These things will kill you in two minutes. They’re huge.”

Mr March said lifeguards on all patrolled beaches in the Far North would now step up their daily dragging efforts with a view to finding box and irukandji jellyfish.

He said the two weekend specimens were among the largest box jellyfish he had seen.

James Cook University jellyfish expert Jamie Seymour, who collected the two weekend specimens for further research, said it was normal for box jellyfish to be found near the beaches this time of year.

“They are no larger than what we would expect to see,” he said. “We have been saying these animals are out there and this is just confirming it.”

Dr Seymour said the weekend specimens were big enough to kill people and said anyone who was stung should pour vinegar on the sting and seek urgent medical attention.

“The advice is what we have been saying all along – stay within the stinger nets and swim at patrolled beaches,” he said.

Box jellyfish tentacles can be up to 2m long with a sting usually leading to breathing difficulties and cardiac arrest.

http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2009/12/28/84555_local-news.html

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