The Irukandji Jellyfish

"Small But Deadly!"

Believe it or not but the Irukandji jellyfish is the size of an adult’s fingernail. It’s tiny at just 2.5cm in length. Yet it has one of the most deadly venom in the world.




Where to Avoid them

They tend to be found around Cairns in Northern Australia. These are happy near shore as well as in open water.

Because they are so tiny they are often never seen and divers are unsure why they feel ill.


The Irukandji Sting

This jellyfish has venom in its tentacles and on its bell. It only stings from the tip of its stingers. This means that the first sting feels very mild with symptoms progressing over time, usually after 30 mintues.

What are the Symptoms of the Sting?.

Initially it’s just a mild sting usually accompanied by a rash that looks like heat rash.

Then usually after 30 minutes the pain intensifies. This can be up to 3 hours before symptoms occur. Excruciating muscle cramps in the arms and legs are common along with severe pain in the back and kidneys.

Unfortunately there is no anti venom and morphine can not help the pain. Most victims needs hospitalisation.


Reported Stings and Fatalities

There have only been 2 reported deaths caused by the Irukandji jellyfish.

But what isn’t clear is how many deaths have been wrongly diagnosed given these creatures are so tiny.

First Aid: How To Treat A Sting

Get to hospital as soon as possible.(Dial 000) There are things that can be done if the venom has not got into your entire blood stream.

If you have been out in the ocean in areas known to have jellyfish then treat any pain or rash as suspicious. Get checked out at hospital as soon as possible. Waiting could be fatal.

A minor sting from a Irukandji may not be fatal, it just depends how much venom has been injected into you.


How To Avoid A Sting

The precautions are exactly the same as for the Box Jellyfish. For full details go to the page on the Box Jellyfish.

Essentially, the advice is to swim within netted areas, wear a stinger suit and obey any "No Swimming" signs, particularly if they have closed the beach due to jellyfish sitings.


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