Australia’s waters are home to many interesting and fascinating creatures, including jellyfish, some of which can be the cause of painful stings! Although they are generally quite easy to avoid, they can cause discomfort if you are stung. The intensity and severity of a sting varies on a range of factors including type of stinger, location of the sting, and the health and fitness of the victim.
The bluebottle (physalia) is probably the most well known jellyfish around the Australian coastline. Their blue, balloon like sail sits above the water and is attached to a long tentacle extending below it. This tentacle is covered in stinging cells callednematocysts. When this touches the skin it reacts by injecting a small amount of a toxin which causes irritation and can be quite painful.
Another common jellyfish is the hair jelly (cyanea) which has a more classic ‘bell’ shaped body with many tentacles protruding underneath. They can also cause a painful sting.
Non-tropical stingers can be found all around Australia but are more commonly found south of Bundaberg in Queensland and south of Geraldton in Western Australia.
Lifeguards are often amused and entertained by the many strange and bizarre treatments people try to relieve the temporary pain of a non-tropical marine sting, such as;