Yeppoon's Corey Buckton, 18, was stung by an  Irukandji jellyfish on Great Keppel Island on Sunday.
Yeppoon's Corey Buckton, 18, was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish on Great Keppel Island on Sunday. Amy Haydock

'Worst pain in my life': Sea creature hospitalises teen

IT looks like the pool will be the only water Corey Buckton will be swimming in from now on, after feeling the painful wrath of an irukandji jellyfish sting on Sunday.

"Felt like my whole body was broken" and "the worst pain I've ever had in my life" was the only way the young man could describe the excruciating experience when speaking to The Morning Bulletin yesterday.

The 18-year-old had the misfortunate run-in with the small, but very dangerous stinger on Great Keppel Island, while spending the day there with friends and family.

The teen and his family wanted to warn others of the tiny but deadly species that could be lurking elsewhere in Keppel Bay.

"We were swimming on the main beach, just where the boat drops you off, we were just about to leave only a half-an-hour later when I got stung," Corey said.

"I felt this sting (on my foot) so I got out, and probably 15 minutes later, my whole body started to hurt. It was crazy."

POTENTIALLY LETHAL: The Irukandji is a very small and difficult to detect stinger.
POTENTIALLY LETHAL: The Irukandji is a very small and difficult to detect stinger.

His aunt, Amanda Buckton said at first they thought it was just sea lice as they'd been experiencing bites in the water all day.

"And then he said it didn't feel like the sea lice," she said.

"It started from my feet and goes up your whole body," Corey added.

"There was a big rash (on his foot) yesterday," Amanda said.

"We did our own research on it (after the sting), there was a guy on the island that knows a lot about the stings, and because of the symptoms, he thought it was an irukandji, and then the hospital confirmed it was."

Amanda said the pain started in his back and as time went on, travelled through to his neck, arms and legs. She said he then started having spasms.

"It wasn't was pretty scary," Corey said.

"It was about 45 minutes until they actually gave me something to stop it (the pain).

"Once I got to the helicopter it felt better...I was fine before we even got to the hospital because they gave me stuff (to treat the sting) while I was up in the air.

"Then they just put me on the drip when I got to hospital."

Amanda said Corey's heart condition was also monitored while at the Rockhampton Hospital, and he was discharged later that night.

"I don't want to go swimming again, it was horrible, I don't think I'll go there (GKI) ever again," he said.

"The little kids were like a metre away from me in the water."

Although he was still suffering from a headache, sore back and nausea, Corey wanted to thank the staff on Great Keppel Island for their help during the incident.

"And just putting that warning out to the locals, because I myself have lived here for five years and didn't know the symptoms," Amanda added.


Irukandji jellyfish are the smallest and one of the most venomous jellyfish in the world.

With bell and tentacles just 2.5 centimetres across, it is almost impossible to detect.

A sting by the Irukandji jellyfish is often felt as nothing more than a painful irritant, with a rash akin to that of prickly heat.

How to treat:

Vinegar is poured over the stung area and a vinegar-soaked pad is placed on.

Wrap cold pack or ice in a wet cloth and apply directly over the sting site for 10-20 minutes. Reassess pain and reapply cold pack or ice if necessary.

Send for medical assessment if cold fails to relieve pain, or other symptoms develop.


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