Captain Ken Smith scooped a deadly box jellyfish out of Gladstone Harbour at the marina. Photo Mary Bolling / The Observer
Captain Ken Smith scooped a deadly box jellyfish out of Gladstone Harbour at the marina. Photo Mary Bolling / The Observer

Warnings after teen killed by box jellyfish

A teenager has died from a box jellyfish sting, prompting warnings from authorities about the deadly marine creatures found in waters north of 1770.

The 17-year-old boy died on Wednesday in Townsville Hospital after being stung by the jellyfish while swimming in the Cape York region.

Gladstone is no stranger to box jellyfish stings, with a father and daughter stung at 1770 in February 2015, and local Rachel Shardlow still bearing the scars from an attack in the Calliope River in 2010.

 

A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish lies next to match sticks for size comparison.
A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish lies next to match sticks for size comparison.

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Box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) have been spotted near the Gladstone Marina, while their smaller, but just as deadly relatives the Irukandji jellyfish, are also known to inhabit local waters.

The warning comes as cyclone Niran whips up seas along the Capricorn Coast, with the potential of transporting jellyfish closer to shore.

Identified by their large, cube shaped body, box jellyfish have been involved in at least 70 deaths in Australia.

Medical Services Director Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, Dr Marlow Coates, warned against swimming in waters inhabited by the jellyfish.

"If you don't have a protective suit and you know there could be stingers or jellyfish in the water, just don't go in,'' he said.

"It's also important that people are familiar with resuscitation methods - early resuscitation after major stings from box jellies has saved lives in the past few years.

 

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Stinger warning signs are in place at the old Calliope River bridge and camping grounds where 10 year-old Rachel Shardlow was stung by a box jellyfish just before Christmas in 2010. Pic: Murray Ware.
Stinger warning signs are in place at the old Calliope River bridge and camping grounds where 10 year-old Rachel Shardlow was stung by a box jellyfish just before Christmas in 2010. Pic: Murray Ware.

 

"The effects of an encounter with a jellyfish could range from receiving a painful sting, right through to a potentially fatal sting from a box jellyfish or one of the jellyfishes causing Irukandji syndrome.''

The treatment is the same for both box jellyfish and Irukandji jellyfish - use vinegar liberally and don't touch or rub the stings.

Anyone stung by either jellyfish should be taken to the nearest hospital as soon as possible for treatment.

The stinger season typically runs from November to May.

 

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