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(Found from the coastline to approximately 10km out and are prevalent during October to May. They can be found between 26°S [approximately Gladstone] around the norther coastline, to about the same latitude on the western coast)

In the last 100 years over 80 Australians have been fatally stung by the Box jellyfish. Named by scientists and Medico's as Medusa the jellyfishes tenticals can still sting after being detached from the head and out of water. It is considered the most venomous marine creature having killed more people than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined. Know also by the name Sea Wasp it contains nematocysts or stinging cells that are activated by chemicals on the skin of fish, shellfish and humans. Box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) are simple animals. Their body shape is almost cubic and have tenticles growing from fleshy extensions at each corner of the bell. The jellyfish does not have a heart, brain or ears, they do have four eyes but how they process visual information is unknown as they have no brain, yet they manage to avoid even the smallest object. Their tenticles grow from fleshy extension at each corner of the bell. these animals move by fillihg thir bell with woater and then expelling it, creating propulsion. Up to 15 tenticles can be found on each of the four corners, and these can reach up to 3 meters in length. Turtles are the Box Jellyfishes enemy, dining on them, unaffected by their stings. It is important for swimmers to take precaustions when swimming in affected areas during summer. many beaches have stinger nets to swim in or alternatevely it is recommended that a wetsuit, bodysuit or pantyhose be worn for protection. Found off Northern Australia, there are many signs warning the swimmers, bathers and surfers of their presence. The Box Jellyfish feeds on shrimp primarily and simply wait for them to run into their tentacles. Box jellyfish are extremely venomous with their stings capable of causing death. A Box Jellyfishes venom is cardiotoxic, neurotoxic and dermatonecrotic and is rapidly absorbed into the circulation. First Aid procedure for a Box Jellyfish sting is to flood the area in vinegar, and if needed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) shoud be initiated until the affected person can be taken to a hospital so an antivenom can be administered. The tentacles adhere to skin and can increase damage if removed before neutralising with vinegar. Severe stings can leave significant scaring. The toxin causes necrosis of the cells and causes excrutiating pain to the victim. When diving up north check with the local dive operators where and when it is safest to dive.

Signs and symptoms

- Stinging
- Burning
- Redness
- Large brown or purple welts
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Short of breath, difficulty breathing, respiratory failure
- Cardiac arrest
- Welt lines


NB: Due to the nature of the venom immediate assistance to the victim is vital.
1. Douse with vinegar to neutralise nematocysts
2. Apply ice
3. Hospitalisation for severe reactions
4. Administer antivenom
5. Pressure / immobilisation
6. If needed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitaiton (CPR) shoud be conducted as soon as indicated

May cause severe reactions if so seek immediate medical attention.
Consult your doctor for treatment with suitable medications


Aw, M. (2000). Tropical reef life: A getting to know you and indentification guide. OceanNEnvironment Ltd: Australia.
EMedicine online: www.emedicine.com

Reef HQ (2005). Dangerous Animals Broucher. Townsville, Australia.


The information provided above is for general purpose use and provided as guidance that is suggestive, not prescriptive, invasive, or medical in nature. You should always consult with or see a medical practitioner for definitive health care information or to receive medical treatment.