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Dangerous Jellyfish/Other Animals

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New Member
Dec 2, 2004
I am visiting Australia from January through April and am eager to do some freediving/spearfishing, probably from shore. I've been reading up on it and am seeing a lot of warnings about box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, and Irukandji jellyfish. I don't want to underestimate anything, but is the threat as big as people say it is? Are these creatures common? What regions do they primarily live in? Any tips on how to protect myself?
Hi Andrew,
depends pretty much on where you are planning to go. I was in NSW / Sydney and Jervis Bay area a few times and saw a Portuguese Man Of War once in about 30 days I was spending at the sea. We were on a boat trip when we saw it. The consequence was that my Aussie buddy jumped overboard clothed only in swimming trunks to have a look how long its tentacles were :duh :hmm *g*...
It might be irrational but I must admit that the jellyfish by far didn't impress me as much as the Huntsman spider in the living room :rcard :blackeye

Best regards,

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Hi Andrew,

We certainly do have some critters over here (and yes that includes the resident Huntsman next to the keyhole for the garage door :) Huntsman spiders for those playing at home are not really dangerous, but are about the same size as a small horse... you could probably ride them if you tried!)

Anyways, in summer is usually the time for all of our nasties to come out. I'll run through a couple:

Box Jellyfish: very nasty, in fact very deadly. But is only in northern Queensland (further north of Brisbane) and other areas of Australia way up north. So unless you're going to parts of Queensland, Northern Territory or north Western Australia, you won't have to worry about this one. If you are going to swim in these areas then heed local warnings and get yourself a full body lycra suit.

Blue Ringed Octopus: hangs around the Sydney area and a bit to the north and south but not really anywhere else in Australia (please someone correct me if i'm wrong here). They live in the rockpools around the beaches and are not much to look at until it feels threatened, when it's rings turn a brilliant blue colour. These guys can be potentially fatal as well, so if you get bitten ice and ambulance/hospital would be my suggestion. I'm not sure about the use of a tournique, a search on the internet will help you with this. However as deadly as they are, i've not heard of a death from a Blue Ring in a long time. Just a little care around the rocks will keep you away from this one.

Irukandji Jellyfish: not sure on this one, it might be a small jellyfish in northern Australia that can paralyse. Anyone know about it?

Blue Bottles (Portugese Man-o-war): These little buggars are nasty. They're not deadly, but the sting is quite painful and they are more common than anything else. They are little blue bubbles about as round as when you put your thumb and forefinger together, with blue tentacles about a metre long, and they float on the breeze. They are common between November-Jan/Feb. I got stung on the face about a month ago. It feels like fire at the time, then goes for a few hours, then comes back as an itchy painful welt for about a week or two. You can sometimes see them washed up on the beach which is a telltale sign that they are in the water (don't touch them on the beach as they can still sting). Best treatment if you get stung is to apply vinegar to neutralise the sting, however recently they are saying that an extremely hot shower for 15-20 minutes on the affected area soothes and relieves and also kills the poison. Ice helps with the swelling too. They aren't here all of summer, in fact they tend to only be around for a couple of weeks in summer. I'd say if you are here from Jan-April you will be unlucky if you get stung. If you are near a beach with lifesavers on it they will have vinegar and creams etc. for stings.

Oh, and to state the obvious there are sharks around the coastline. There are shark nets on nearly all Sydney beaches, and it has been a long long time since anyone was attacked on the eastern coast. Unfortunately there have been some recent Great White attacks around Western Australia and South Australia where they seem to be a bit more common.

But all in all it is pretty safe over here. I've been beaching all along the eastern coast of New South Wales since I was a kid and i've had 2 bluebottle stings in about 14 years. The biggest risk of all is to turn up to a beach with your cricket bat and ball only to find it's a nudie beach rofl

Hope this helps you out, have a great time in 'stralia!

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Reactions: Shadowkiller

ALWAYS carry a bottle/packet of meat tenderiser in your dive bag. (available EVERYWHERE!!!! :D )

Most marine animals venoms are protein based and by applying meat tenderiser to the affected area gives immediate relief. This works very well for blue-bottles (portugese-man-o-war).

Not quite sure on treating of the blue ringed octopus bite. We have a sea fish called barbel, which has three poisonous spines. If you're stabbed by a spine the remedy is to imerse the affected part in as HOT water as the patient can bear, carefully not to scald the victim. The heat breaks up the poisen. TIP- stay clear of any octopus!!! :D

Hope this bit helps!!!!

Irukandji Jellyfish: Small, but its nematocysts seem to capable of penetrating thin layers of clothing. Like the pantyhose/thin lycra that lifesavers use up in QLD. The effects of the sting are muscle pain and potential fluid build up in the lungs. Deaths where cardiac arrest occured seem to be due partialy to pre-existing conditions such as heart conditions or high blood pressure.

This thing is possibly the nastiest out there as it is very small (2cm) and packs a punch. No definitive treatment has been agreed upon by the medical fraternity, but analgesia is usually a part of the treatment.

I highly recommend a full body lycra suit with hood when diving in QLD. Theres so many jellies in the water, mostly non-fatal, that you cop a hiding some days. :(

Andrew: If your visiting Sydney, let me know. I dive most weekends.

Veronika: You would love my pet Huntsman! She's the meanest spider in the neighbourhood. Keeps out nasty spiders like the Funnelweb or Redback. :)
Shadow, send a pic of your Huntsman, I wanted to be an arachnologist when ten years old!

Hi Shadowkiller,
well, *ummmh*, yes... I'm actually not so sure if I'd be such a great fan of your Huntsman *g*. Although I know that they are quite harmless and keep away the nasty ones just like black snakes do, I'm one of the persons who suffer from arachnophobia, which is irrational per se :head. So Huntsman and stuff like that are still somehow worst case. Especially if you are used to European spiders with a max. size of about 6cm :D. I never managed to get to the opposite part of a room that quickly ;) .
Must add, though, that I really enjoyed my stay in Australia and if I had the chance I'd just love to go there again. It's a wonderful place and my Huntsman story is just one small experience I made in Oz. In retrospective, a quite funny one. Yet it was very impressive, too, at that time :) .

BennyB hi there.
There are Blue Ringed Octupses's's on the West Coast. There was a children's paddling pool at one of our beaches and they found a Blue Ringed Octupus in it. In another occassion a diver found a nice looking shell and put it down his wet suit. When he got to shore and pulled it out a Blur Ringed Ocy crawled out.

The bite - tornique is no good it attacks the nerve system that controls your muscles, a tornique only helps if venoum is travelling through the blood, and even then a tornique is seldom used as it creates toxins of its own.

After being bitten within minutes any thing that is controlled by your muscles stops, including the muscles controlling your heart and lungs.

Good news bites are rare as they are very timid and prefer to run.
Hi Poida,

I didn't realise that. I've just done a quick search on the internet and it seems that they are present in southern Western Australia, to southern Qld and northern Tasmania.

It's quite disturbing when you hear of near miss stories such as the kid's paddling pool, but then again stories of bites are fairly rare.

On a wreck scuba dive a buddy of mine found a bowling ball which he stuck his fingers into an brought it back to the surface. When he rolled it onto the boat a blue ringed octopus fell out of the finger holes. . . . very lucky buddy to say the least!!
i live on the eastern coast of australia in a gorgeous town called coffs harbour, i went for a stroll down the beach a few days ago and the beach was covered with blue bottles. so there around this time of year too. i've also seen a brown snake close to shore. scarey!!!
Andrew_Bland said:
I am visiting Australia from January through April and am eager to do some freediving/spearfishing, probably from shore. I've been reading up on it and am seeing a lot of warnings about box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, and Irukandji jellyfish. I don't want to underestimate anything, but is the threat as big as people say it is? Are these creatures common? What regions do they primarily live in? Any tips on how to protect myself?

To Andrew Bland,

I'm studying in Australia currently, and about a month ago I was in Cairns, Queensland, on holidays. The locals warn you a lot about especially the box jellies, but you saw tourists swimming constantly.. Of course, listen to the locals, but as far as I'm concerned, it's not a big threat.
What we ended up doing was buying lycra suits, which will protect you in most cases. But that was just precaution, I didn't see a single dangerous creature in the eight days we swam there. Neither while scuba diving..
The lycra suits were pretty cheap, so you might consider that.

Good luck,

Emil Jacobi
keep away from Australia there is lots of nasties.!!!!! The pubs sell beer that is cold and strong and the women will out drink you then take you home and root you to death.
There are creatures that kill you on land, Great whites at every beach just waiting for a fresh slab of tourist ( they keep away from locals - to tough )
Kangaroos love nothing better than finding a drunk and also rooting you to death but they will steel your credit cards.
If you go outside you will fry from the constant 34'' c heat and you will go blind from the bright blue skys.
We killed all the fish last weekend there is nothing left for you.
Keep away its hell down here
Bloody tourists
Come on Crusty
We are trying to encourage tourists, not turn them away.
There has been talk of the Huntsman Spider, not a real danger because their bite is non toxic. However they do have a bite like a Pit Bull Terrier so as long as you keep a can of pepper spray handy to subdue them while you take a shot with a double barrel shotgun, preferably between the eyes, you will be quite safe.

Kangaroos only attack if they get pissed off. It's easy to tell if they are pissed off, because they grab you around the shoulders with their front legs and bring their front legs up around your stomach area and rip your guts out. If this happens to you, stay away from them because they are pissed off.

Sharks are quite safe, in fact if you go swimming here, they are a damn site safer than you are. Thay are attracted by blood, so if you have just had your guts ripped out by a kangaroo, don't go swimming.

Been swimming North Queensland and haven't been stung by a jellyfish. Tourists think we are full of crap and happily swim around in the water. Strange how it's always the tourists that are killed by them.

Please come and visit Australia, but please be aware of the dangers.
Red Back Spiders, Funnel Web Spiders, White Tailed Spiders, Snakes, Scorpions, Centerpedes, Sharks, Crocodiles, Jellyfish, Blue Ringed Octopus.
Shit what am I doing here?
miles said:
ALWAYS carry a bottle/packet of meat tenderiser in your dive bag. (available EVERYWHERE!!!! :D )
Most marine animals venoms are protein based and by applying meat tenderiser to the affected area gives immediate relief.
Hmm, I find it a rather extreme solution to use a meat tenderizer on a jellyfish victim. Maybe, applying it to the head of the victim could be more relieving than applying it on the affected area - I fear if I go on hashing the affected place with the meat tenderizer, it only gets worse.

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Heh, after reading all this, I starting to think that Wisconsin is not such a bad place after all, the only thing I have to worry about is cold and boaters :)
I was a silly tourist that was stung by an Irukandji Jellyfish not a pleasant experience to say the least! Im travelling to New Zealand at Xmas and im terrified the little critter comes to find me and finishes me off this time! Wouldn't put me worst enemy through that pain!
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