Jellyfish in Australia
20
January

A Sting in the Tale

‘Ouch! What was that? Nothing dampens a day at the beach like a tentacle wrapped around a limb. With so many creatures lurking close to shore in summer, it’s tough to know which ones are downright dangerous (Box Jellyfish) as opposed to just mildly irritating (sea lice – which BTW are actually the microscopic larvae of jellyfish and other ocean stingers).

In any case, always present to a lifesaver as your first port of call. If you happen to be at an unmanned beach, here we explain the most common stingers and their corresponding First Aid treatment.

MOST IMPORTANT: You know how a lot of people are allergic to shellfish? Well, sea-creature stings can also trigger a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in certain individuals.

3 Stingers to Watch Out for and What to Do

1.) Box Jellyfish, Irukandji and Any Unidentified Tropical Stingers.

Where: In the waters of northern Australia (north of Bundaberg over to Darwin and down to Geraldton in WA).

When: November-March

Scary: The box jellyfish has caused 60+ recorded deaths in Australia over the past 100 years.

First Aid:

● Follow DRSABCD and ensure help is on the way. You may need to provide emergency assistance including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Keep the person calm.
● Flood area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds. If you don’t have vinegar, flick tentacles off using stick or similar. Do not touch tentacles with bare hands.

2.) Bluebottle (Pacific Man-O-War)

Where: Bluebottles travel where the wind takes them and can turn up anywhere. They are most plentiful in sub-tropical areas and large armadas tend to make their way to the Gold Coast, Sydney, Perth and Tasmania.

When: November-March

Scary: Around 10,000 painful brushes with Bluebottles are reported each year, but in most cases the pain fades after 30 minutes.

First Aid:

● Follow DRSABCD and ensure help is on the way.
● Submerge affected limb in hot water (as hot as is bearable)*

Follow this same treatment for stonefish, stingray and non-tropical minor jellyfish stings.

3.) Blue-ringed Octopus

Where: They love tide pools and coral reefs. In Australia, their primary habitat is around southern New South Wales, South Australia and northern Western Australia.

When: November-March

Scary: Their venom is most deadly, but these are shy, retiring creatures and there have been just 2-3 recorded fatalities in the past century.

First Aid*:

*Follow same procedure for sea snake or coneshell injuries

● Follow DRSABCD and ensure help is on the way. You may need to provide emergency assistance including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Keep the person calm.
● Apply a crepe bandage over site, then firmly apply a heavy crepe pressure bandage from fingers/toes upwards on affected limb.
● Immobilise bandaged limb with splints.

Would a First Aid Course Help?

Knowing how to treat wounds, apply bandages and create splints can save a life – at the beach and elsewhere.

Browse our First Aid training services and supplies at Australiawidefirstaid.com.au

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This post was written by awfa

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