Ex­perts warn that stinger dearth may not con­tinue

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page -

STINGERSare stay­ing clear of north­ern beaches so far this sea­son.

Stinger ex­pert Dr Lisa Gersh­win said re­gional wa­ters had been al­most free of stingers this sea­son.

‘‘We’ve had four stings at Palm Is­land in Oc­to­ber and we had a sting around three weeks ago on Palm Is­land from an irukandji,’’ Dr Gersh­win said.

‘‘That’s all that we’ve had in the way of box jel­ly­fish or irukandji in Townsville.

‘‘It’s re­ally been very quiet in terms of stingers.’’

The first ma­jor sting close to Townsville oc­curred on Tues­day when a 42-year-old man was stung by an irukandji while snorkelling off John Brewer Reef.

The man was air­lifted to the Townsville Hospi­tal.

‘‘From what I un­der­stand he had full-blown irukandji syn­drome,’’ Dr Gerswhin said.

She said she was un­aware of the man’s ex­act symp­toms but in gen­eral the syn­drome in­volves se­vere lower back pain, full body cramps, nausea and vom­it­ing.

‘‘It can in­volve a very high blood pres­sure that can cause strokes or heart at­tacks, so it can be ex­tremely se­ri­ous,’’ she said.

She said the first irukandji hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion for 2005 was in Oc­to­ber, the same month as the first hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion in 2006.

‘‘Through­out Novem­ber (2005) we had a lot of irukandji and box jel­ly­fish ac­tiv­ity, so by Christ­mas we were al­ready well into a lot of jel­ly­fish ac­tiv­ity,’’ Dr Gerswhin said.

‘‘Com­par­a­tively, 2006 has been a very slow year.’’

She said life­guards had main­tained in­tense mon­i­tor­ing of lo­cal beaches to en­sure the wa­ters were safe.

She said so far ‘drag­ging’ had de­tected no stingers.

‘‘At pa­trolled beaches we mon­i­tor two to three times a day for stingers and at some beaches we’ll mon­i­tor more,’’ she said.

‘‘If we find con­di­tions suit irukandji we’ll step up drags to make sure the wa­ter is safe.’’

Photo:NEDKELLY YYF08291

ON DUTY.

. . Tony Bow­man and Michelle Com­bridge drag for stingers

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