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Jellyfish force Australian beaches to close

January 7, 2019

Authorities have been forced to close several beaches in Queensland to remove nests of bluebottle jellyfish. There have been three times as many stinging cases this year as there were last year.

Jellyfish sting warning sign
Image: picture-alliance/robertharding/T. Graham

Multiple beaches in eastern Australia have been closed because of an increase in jellyfish stings, authorities said on Monday.

At least five beaches in the northeastern state of Queensland have been shut down so authorities could remove stinger nests. 

Qualle Portugiesische Galeere am Strand
The bluebottle jellyfish, also known as the Portuguese man o' warImage: picture-alliance/dpa/N. Bothma

Surf Life Saving Queensland said a "whopping" 3,595 people were stung over the weekend by Portuguese man o' war jellyfish, also known as bluebottles because of their transparent blue appearance. On Sunday alone, lifesavers treated 476 bluebottle stings on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast to the north.

Bluebottles, highly venomous jellyfish, are common on Australian beaches during the summer, which begins in December. Their long tentacles can deliver a very painful sting, though they are rarely fatal.

The number of bluebottle stings recently has surprised authorities. More than 18,000 stings were recorded in Queensland in December, three times more cases than last year over the same period. The influx of jellyfish has been described as an "invasion" by local media in Queensland.

dv/msh (AFP, dpa)

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