You might want to wait a couple of weeks before hitting the beach in Australia’s Gold and Sunshine coasts. More than 5,000 people were stung by bluebottle jellyfish this past weekend, as reported by The Guardian. And there’s no need to be in the water to be stung — just walking on one of the creatures on the beach will hurt. Jeremy Sturges, Surf Life Saving duty officer, told News.com, “I have never seen anything like this — ever. Not everyone reacts the same way, but there have been very serious reactions.”
Apparently, the jellyfish species, also known as the Portuguese man-of-war, travel in bunches and have trailing tentacles and a crest that acts like a sail. This particular jellyfish attack might be due to strong north-easterly swell conditions, pushing the jellyfish to shore, and causing lifeguards to close several beaches.
According to The Guardian, “Across Queensland, […] 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between 1 December and 7 January compared with 6,831 in the same period last year.”
If you do happen to be stung, Queensland Ambulance advises you to “pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs. Avoid using vinegar if it’s clearly a bluebottle sting.” Luckily, no fatalities have been reported as a result of the “invasion.”