First st­ing of the sea­son

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

WITH a stinger suit on but the hood off, Vic­to­rian tourist Kate Fenby was un­lucky enough to be stung by an irukandji jel­ly­fish on her neck while snorkelling near Low Isles last week.

The 19-year-old stu­dent was on a hol­i­day with her par­ents and brother, tak­ing a break af­ter her first year of univer­sity by snorkelling on a Sail­away cruise last Fri­day when stung on the left side of her neck by an irukandji around mid­day.

“At the start it was a lit­tle kind of st­ing but then it kind of es­ca­lated and be­came ex­cru­ci­at­ing,” she said.

“I re­mem­ber most of it, it felt like it was go­ing on for­ever and kind of kept get­ting worse, I couldn’t move my body and I was strug­gling to breathe.

“To start it was just on the neck, then in my lower back and legs, it was ev­ery­where mus­cles all cramp­ing it was hor­ri­ble - a re­ally deep cramp on my whole body, I felt kind of paral­ysed couldn’t re­ally move my legs and arms.”

Kate had been snorkelling with her full stinger suit on and the sec­ond time she snorkelled be­fore lunch she re­moved her hood.

Sail­away owner Steve Edmondson said due to the weather calm­ing the ocean, there was a greater chance of jel­ly­fish, but be­ing stung in the only ex­posed area was un­lucky.

“It was a higher risk time with the flat sea, a hot east­erly came af­ter rain six days af­ter a full moon roughly,” he said.

“Ev­ery­body had suits on, they are pro­vided free of charge on Sail­away, they saw the tur­tles in the morn­ing and had a great time be­fore go­ing back to the boat.

“She did a sec­ond snorkel but didn’t have a hood on and got in­cred­i­bly un­lucky.”

There were four crew mem­bers on board, who were all trained in case of an irukandji st­ing but this was the first time a pas­sen­ger has been stung and the emer­gency plan im­ple­mented.

“Kate’s mother is a nurse, which was help­ful and two crew mem­bers were as­signed to look­ing af­ter her and or­gan­ised to have her evac­u­ated,” Steve said.

Kate’s fa­ther Craig Fenby said it could have been him who was stung be­cause his hands were ex­posed at the same time.

“No fa­ther likes to see their daugh­ter in pain and she was in quite a bit of pain and she was hav­ing dif­fi­culty breath­ing and I started get­ting a bit con­cerned,” he said.

“The Sail­away staff and the care­taker on Low Isles and the med­i­cal staff were fan­tas­tic and the job they did to land the helicopter on the beach when the wind had come up and it was rain­ing, was ter­rific.”

Kate has since been dis­charged from hos­pi­tal, and yes­ter­day re­turned home to Vic­to­ria.

“I would tell other peo­ple to do all they can to pro­tect them­selves,” she said. “I def­i­nitely rec­om­mend go­ing out, it was fan­tas­tic but just be re­ally care­ful and aware of what can hap­pen if they don’t wear the suits.”

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