Stingers nearing our beaches

WHITSUNDAY residents, it's that time again when the word stingers becomes a topic on everybody's lips.

As the summer months approach, the chances of coming into contact with irukandji and box jellyfish increase.

The months of October to May are considered high season and June to September as the low season.

With this in mind, Whitsunday Regional Council environmental health services manager Angela Jackson said it was important for people to be alert not alarmed.

“It does happen and people do get stung but it is a beautiful area and it's about taking the right precautions,” she said. “But it can occur all year round.”

Another misconception many people also place on these deadly creatures is that irukandji are more deadly than box jellyfish.

Cadet environmental officer Dale Mengel said this was not true as irukandji were more common but less deadly.

In the past, there have only been three confirmed deaths from irukandji jelly fish, two occurring in Australia in 2002, compared to 63 confirmed deaths from box jellyfish world-wide between 1884 and1996.

Despite there being relatively low chances of being stung or even killed by a stinger, Mr Mengel said it was important people take the correct precautionary measures to prevent all chances.

“The take home message is to wear protective lycra/neoprene suits,” he said.

“Another thing that people should do is swim inside stinger nets. They will keep the box jellyfish out but some of the irukanji can sneak through.”

To raise awareness about the threat these jellyfish pose to humans, Whitsunday Marine Stinger management committee in conjunction with Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ), will host talks at schools and other venues next week as part of stinger week.

This will help educate people about what precautions should be taken if people choose to enter the water or are stung by these organisms.

For more information call Council's environmental health department on 4945 0682.


  • Wear protective clothing - these significantly reduce chances of being stung
  • Assess the risk - not all days are equal risk; do not enter the water when salps (jellyfish like creatures) are swarming
  • Carry vinegar - when swimming, boating, cast-netting.Swim inside stinger nets
  • Don't swim alone - make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to be home
  • Have access to help – always carry a mobile phone
  • If in doubt, treat it as irukandji - Saturate stings with vinegar and seek medical attention

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