Monday, 6 January 2014

Not a good time for the beach

Our Wet Season days are hot and humid. Good weather for a swim. The sea looks beautiful, sparkling and blue.
Stay out of the sea at this time of year though.

Apart from the salt water crocodiles which are always present around here, we also have box jellyfish in the sea during the Wet Season.

Our box jellyfish is Chironex fleckeri. It is very hard to see in the water unless you are directly above it. The tentacles are the dangerous part and are very long and fine. Most people are stung by pieces of tentacle that are floating in the water. It is much more serious if you brush up against a live stinger. The sting can be fatal. The venom paralyses your heart and the sting is very painful. If the sting is minor then you will be left with a scar that looks like a red line, but gradually heals.

These photos were taken at one of the local beaches last week.
You can not see the tentacles,
which can still sting a long time after the animal dies.
How big are they? The tentacles can be about 2 metres long but the square-ish shaped body is only about 15 centimetres across.
  
Are they there all the time? No. For most of the year they live out at sea, but during the Wet they come closer to shore to feed. If the weather is really rough the stingers head out to deeper water. Sometimes I have seen them in the tidal creeks too. Occasionally they may be washed up on the beach as in these photos. They will still sting so do not pick one up to look at it.

Have I been stung? No, but my daughter had a minor sting once.

Is it possible to be in the sea and avoid the stings? Yes. Shops sell stinger suits which are a bit like wetsuits but made of lycra. You could still be stung on the face, hands, or feet so care should be exercised. If you are stung the advice is to pour vinegar over the area liberally and get medical help.

Where can I swim? In a pool. Crocs, stingers. Are there sharks too? Of course.

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