Yes folks, our old friend, the box jellyfish is back. Hundreds of them were found in the waterways around the western Cape York Peninsula town of Weipa. The creatures were huge, box jellyfish are sexually mature at 15cms, these were 20cms. They are found in coastal waters, so if you must swim, swim fast, then you only have the sharks and crocs to worry about.
Species - Chironex Fleckeri
Box Jellyfish are pale blue and transparent and bell or cubed shaped with four distinct sides, hence box jellyfish.
Measuring up to 20 cm along each side of the cube or bell, the Box Jellyfish has up to as many as 15 tentacles on each corner which can be 3 metres in length with up to 5,000 nematocysts (stinging cells).
The Box Jellyfish shoots itself along up to speeds of 4 knots in a jet-like motion.
The box jellyfish seem to move towards the shore in calm waters when tide is rising and gather near the mouths of rivers, estrays and creeks following the rain.
Box Jellyfish feed on small fish and crustaceans.
The Box Jellyfish season starts with the onset of the wet across the top of northern Australia, usually around October and lasts until April. Further south along the northern Queensland or northern Western Australia coast the season is usually from November to March. They sometimes appear further south a few weeks beyond the close of the season.
You have virtually no chance of surviving the venomous sting. The pain is so excruciating and overwhelming that you would most likely go into shock and drown before reaching the shore. So don't go swimming alone!
First Aid Never use methylated spirit or alcohol.
Domestic vinegars should be poured liberally over the tentacles to inactivate stinging cells as soon as possible. The tentacles may then be removed. Artificial respiration and cardiac massage may be required.
Where antivenom is unavailable, pressure-immobilisation may be used on limbs after inactivation of stinging cells, while the patient is being transported to the nearest medical centre.