A close up image of the tiny Irukandji jellyfish.
A close up image of the tiny Irukandji jellyfish.

Reports of multiple irukandji jellyfish stings

A RESCUE helicopter has flown to Fraser Island after reports that a number of people have been stung by an extremely venomous species of jellyfish.

A helicopter with paramedics on board, as well as water police, are on their way to the scene where it is thought several people have been stung by Irukandji jellyfish.

It comes after reports earlier today a 26-year-old man became the fourth to be stung on Fraser Island these holidays.

Irukandji jellyfish are an extremely venomous species of box jellyfish, and are considered to both the smallest and one of the most venomous jellyfish in the world.

The jellyfish may be elusive during far north Queensland's big wet but they're set to come back in big numbers when the sun comes out.

After they forced the closure of two northern Queensland beaches last weekend, including Ellis Beach near Cairns when a teenage girl was hospitalised with stings to her upper body, no irukandji have been spotted in swimming areas since.

A close up image of the tiny Irukandji jellyfish.
A close up image of the tiny Irukandji jellyfish.

One of the world's deadliest creatures, the jellyfish prefer calm, warm waters and tend to stay away during heavy rainfall, with some far north areas receiving up to 200mm since Boxing Day.

But the risk of irukandji stings will increase once the rain stops, according to toxicologist Jamie Seymour.

"All this rain, it'll fire all jellyfish up," Professor Seymour said.

"What you tend to find is after you've had big rainfall events, like we're having at the moment, we'll have large numbers of jellyfish, assuming the weather settles back down.

"If we don't get rain, we get very small numbers of irukandji."

James Cook University Professor Jamie Seymour says the risk of stings will spike when the sun returns to far north Queensland. Picture: Brendan Francis
James Cook University Professor Jamie Seymour says the risk of stings will spike when the sun returns to far north Queensland. Picture: Brendan Francis

Prof Seymour said Queensland had recorded almost 20 irukandji stings this year, including four off Fraser Island.

"It is above average. In Cairns, we've had at least seven stings. This time last year, we had one," he said.

"The (stinging) season has become longer. 50 years ago, the season was about a month.

"Now, it's about 5-6 months.

"It correlates quite nicely with increasing water temperature."



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