20 Reasons to Visit Australia – Small Water Creatures

Box and Irukandji Jellyfish

Names: Box Jellyfish, Irukandji, Sea Wasp

Recorded Deaths: 80+

Appearance: Clear jelly-like blobs. Box Jellyfish are larger with very long, invisible tentacles (50cm+); Irukandjis are about 2.5cm across.

Location: Beaches all over Australia.

Venom: Is inserted through spikes on tentacles, which can wrap you up and inject in many places at once. Box Jellyfish venom kills within three minutes, attacking the nervous system, heart, and skin at once. Irukandji venom can kill in three days, even with medical treatment.

Tips: Get help as fast as possible. Don’t swim if there are clear blobs on the beach or in the water.

Blue-Ringed Octopus

Names: Blue-Ring Octopus

Recorded Deaths: 4

Appearance: Yellow, with eight legs. It has blue rings when angry. They can also re-grow limbs when they lose one. They have blue blood and three hearts.

Location: Beaches on the southern coast.

Venom: They have enough poison to kill 26 humans in minutes and the venom causes paralysis. However, more deaths are caused by food poisoning from someone improperly preparing their cousins, the fugu, a Japenese delicacy.

Tips: Only sting when threatened or angry. Only deaths have been caused by people picking them up. So don’t pick them up.


Names: Stonefish, That-Brown-Rock-On-The-Ocean-Floor

Recorded Deaths: 1 (in Australia), hundreds (Pacific islanders)

Appearance: Brown and rock-like. They have 13 dorsal fins on their backs which can easily be trodden on and which administer their venom.

Location: Mostly on north-eastern beaches, but also in Western Australia.

Venom: Causes intense pain which cannot be relieved with painkillers (including morphine). However, very hot water can be used to relieve the pain. Stonefish are the most venomous fish in the world and can kill a human within two hours. Medical treatment should be sought.

Antivenom: Since 1959.

Tips: Don’t step on rocks when walking in the sea.

Cone snail   

Names: Cone snail, That-Pretty-Shell-I’m-Going-To-Pick-Up

Recorded Deaths: unknown

Appearance: It lives in a cone-shaped shell, with a harpoon-shaped proboscis sticking out. It’s about 15cm long.

Location: the ocean floor

Venom: Is injected via means of the aforementioned harpoon-shaped proboscis. One sting is enough to kills 15 adults, and depending on the sort of cone snail, it causes a variety of reactions, such as swelling of the lips and tongue, sweating, headache, weakness, lethargy, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, poor co-ordination, followed by paralysis, turning blue, an inability to vocalise, breathlessness, wet coughing, low blood pressure, seizures, sometimes a coma. In severe cases, an erratic heartbeat can precede respiratory failure and heart attacks.

Antivenom: None – treatment is simply keeping the patient alive until the venom has worked its way out of their system (presumably by means of the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea mentioned).

Tips: Make sure the shell’s empty before picking it up.

Bluebottle Jellyfish

Names: Bluebottle, blue blob, herd of blue blobs

Recorded Deaths: none, but there are over 10 000 recorded stings each summer.

Appearance: blue and blobby, usually in groups.

Location: floating on ocean currents

Venom: painful, but not usually fatal.

Antivenom: none. Pour vinegar on, the site of the sting to lessen pain. DO NOT urinate on the sting. THIS IS A MYTH and will make matters worse.


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