Experts warn that stinger dearth may not continue
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.’’
. . Tony Bowman and Michelle Combridge drag for stingers