Beware: box jellyfish found

IT was big enough to claim the life of a human, and more concerning, it was found in the waters of Gladstone.

The recent discovery of a large box jellyfish in Auckland Creek has prompted a reminder for people to be careful in local waters.

Discovered by locals Zac Price and Dave Jensen on March 6, the box jellyfish was located adjacent to the O'Connell Wharf while the men were attempting to put a boat in the water.

The box jellyfish was scooped up in a bucket by the men and taken home by Zac to show his young son Dylan.

Now in a specimen jar, the box jellyfish last Thursday proved a huge hit amongst Dylan's fellow Prep friends during show and tell.

Estimated to have a body size of 15 centimetres across, Zac said he had seen a few box jellyfish in the creek but nothing as big as the one found last week.

"You don't see heaps of them down this way but you would have to think there has to be others in there," Zac said.

With many people using the local creek, Zac said he wanted to warn the community to be on the lookout for box jellyfish in the area.

He said particularly with reports that a lot of people swim around the boat ramp area.

CQ University's Centre for Environmental Management Senior Research Officer Dr Ralph Alquezar said that there have been very few documented reports of this kind within the region.

Dr Alquezar also mentioned that although some species breed in estuaries while other species breed offshore and are known to be blown in with the northerly winds, it is difficult to ascertain how the box jellyfish came to be in Auckland Creek.

He said it was important to remember that any size box jellyfish has the potential to harm humans.

With over 19 different species of box jellyfish, studies have shown that the venom of the box jellyfish is considered to be amongst the most deadly in the world.

The venom of a box jellyfish contains toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells.

It is so overpoweringly painful, human victims have been known to go into shock and drown or die of heart failure before even reaching shore. Survivors can experience considerable pain for weeks and often have significant scarring where the tentacles made contact.

Box jellyfish, also called sea wasps and marine stingers, live primarily in coastal waters off northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific. They are pale blue and transparent in colour and get their name from the cube-like shape of their bell. Up to 15 tentacles grow from each corner of the bell and can reach 10 feet (3 metres) in length. Each tentacle has about 5000 stinging cells or nematocysts, which are triggered by their prey's muscle reaction.

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