Thousands stung on Australian beaches after 'invasion' of bluebottle jellyfish

Thousands stung on Australian beaches after 'invasion' of bluebottle jellyfish

Beaches along the heavily populated Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions of Queensland have been closed as colonies of bluebottle jellyfish cause what local media has dubbed an "invasion".

Over the weekend alone, more than 5,000 people were stung as weather drove an armada of bluebottle jellyfish toward shore, the Guardian reports.

Across Queensland, but mostly in the southeast, 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to 6831 in the same period a year ago.

Australian environmental activists say that their own government shares some of the blame, pointing at the lack of a co-ordinated effort to target plastic pollution in the waters around the Australian coastline, for example.

That number is expected to rise, however, as the coastguard association Surf Life Saving said even more jellyfish are on their way thanks to north easterly winds working in their favour.

"I have never seen anything like this - ever", he said.

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Several swimmers suffered anaphylactic shock and were attended to by paramedics.

Unusually strong northeasterly swell conditions pushed the bluebottles onshore and they were clumped in their thousands along the shoreline.

According to the association, 22,282 people were treated for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7 compared to 6,381 in the same period a year ago.

What Do We Know About Bluebottles?

The epicentre has been the popular beaches on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast in the state of Queensland, but beaches in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have also been affected. Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish expert from Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, said that such gathering of jellyfish in large is not quite unusual and mostly due to the winds.

"They get picked up by the wind and blown as long as the wind keeps going or until they hit land and strand on the beaches".

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