First sting of the season
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.”