The Box Jellyfish
"One of the deadliest creatures in the world!"
The box jellyfish is supposedly the most venomous creature on the planet, so this is one jellyfish you don’t want to meet!
It is so called due to its shape having four distinct corners to it. Generally the larger the jellyfish the more damage it can do.
There are over 16 different species of this type of jellyfish and not all of them are this venomous. Some will cause stinging and pain but not enough to kill you.
Key Facts About The Box Jelly Fish
The box jellyfish, also known as the “Sea Wasp", actually hunts its prey and uses the venom to capture it. Did you know that there are in fact some turtles that are immune to its venom and actually feed off the jellyfish?
Each of the jellyfish's tentacles contain 500,000 small needles which are all full of venom. If it brushes against you, it may decide to inject its venom.
Where to avoid Box Jellyfish
The Box jellyfish is generally found in Australia’s warmer waters, particularly in northern parts of Australia. You’ll notice more around the coastline near the Great Barrier Reef. Remember though that the reef is not near the shore line and so you can still enjoy the reef without worrying about box jellyfish.
They prefer to stay near the shore line rather than out to sea. The worst time for this jellyfish is May to October but that said box jellyfish have been known to be out and about outside of these times.
Northern Queensland and the top parts of Eastern Australia tend to see more between October and March. Be particularly careful on warm days with light breezes.
If anything there appears to be more and more box jellyfish around. It is unclear as to why exactly but some believe it is the effect of global warming or the increased acidity of sea water.
Reported Stings and Fatalities
There have only been 63 reported deaths from the box jellyfish in over 100 years in Australia so rest assured it is still a rare occurrence.
More common is a sting from the blue bottle jellyfish. Rubbing past one of these will still give you a nasty sting but is in no way fatal. You’ll be tempted to rub the skin but that unfortunately makes it about 10 times worse. You need to put an ice pack on there and get checked out from a medical professional just to make sure you are OK.
What are the Symptoms of a Box Jelly Fish Sting
Firstly the pain is said to be excruciating. Most people can’t cope with the pain and go into instant shock. Others go into cardiac arrest.
It just depends how many of the tentacles the victim has come into contact with. They could be dead within 3 minutes if the entire body has been in contact with this jellyfish!
If the sting is mild then the victim will be in a lot of pain but will not go into cardiac arrest.
Of those that survive, they are generally left with scars as the venom actually disintegrates the skin.
First Aid: How To Treat A Sting
Clearly if the person is unconscious then you should perform CPR and call an ambulance immediately.(000)
There may still be tentacles attached to the victim. Removing them will actually force more venom into the person. The only way to remove the tentacles is to soak them in Vinegar. All beaches that are prone to stingers have a bottle of vinegar somewhere on the beach. It’s wise to carry your own bottle in your first aid kit.
Even if there are no tentacles attached, the wound should still be doused with vinegar.
Don’t put any sort of restricted bandage on the area either as this is said to worsen the pain. The patient should be monitored for at least 45 mintues. If no signs of fainting or unconsciousness then they are safe to go home. If they deteriorate then medical attention is necessary.
There is an anti venom available for this jellyfish.
How To Prevent Being Stung
Prevention clearly is the best cure!
Most beaches that are prone to stingers and
have netted areas to keep them out. 9/10 they do a good job but it won’t stop the odd tentacle getting through so don’t swim too close to the nets and remember tentacles can be as long as 6 metres!
Don’t swim or enter the water where you see a “No Swimming - jellyfish sign.” Sometimes they will close a beach entirely if there have been specific sitings. Don’t even think about going in if they do.
Wear a stinger suit. These suits have been specially formulated to protect against jellyfish stings. They are also very lightweight. There are hats, gloves and socks too that you can get as clearly anything that is exposed is at risk.
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