February 25, 2024

Tiny poisonous jellyfish injures six people in Australia – Science

They are small but very poisonous: the Irukandji jellyfish, which lives only in Australia, is extremely dangerous to humans. There is an alarm on the holiday island of K'gari.

Brisbane (dpa) – There is a jellyfish alert on the Australian holiday island of Kgari (formerly Fraser Island): In just four days, six people have been stung in the sea off the island – apparently by the Irukandji jellyfish. The semi-transparent box jellyfish (Carukia barnesi), discovered in 1961, is only about one to two centimeters in diameter, but has tentacles up to a meter long. Several children were among those injured, news website News.com.au reported, citing rescue workers.

Most of the injured had to be flown by rescue helicopter to Hervey Bay Hospital on the mainland. The mother of an eight-year-old victim told 9News that her son was screaming in pain. “He started vomiting and said he couldn't feel his leg. It was scary.” Visitors to K'gari have been advised not to swim further in the area.

The poison can cause the syndrome

Nettle toxins from the Irukandji family can lead to what is called Irukandji Syndrome. Intoxication is especially noticeable by severe pain in the abdomen, chest and back. Without medical care, the symptoms become life-threatening.

The Irukandji typically live in tropical waters in far north Queensland and the Northern Territory. However, they said some currents could cause the jellyfish to migrate south. Experts fear that climate change may push them further south in the future.

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Kgari Island, located off the coast of Queensland, is the largest sand island in the world and is popular with tourists from all over the world. The beaches attract white sand and clear waters – but as well as jellyfish, there are also sharks, deadly spiders and dingoes on Dream Island.

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