A sudden jellyfish invasion was responsible for stinging more than 3,500 people in the waters of popular beach areas in Australia over the weekend, officials said.
Since the start of December, there have been more than 18,000 stings recorded in Queensland, compared with 6,000 for the same time a year ago. The Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service (AMSAS) states 22 people have been admitted to hospital in the state in recent weeks with suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings, which is well above the ten-year average.
That number is expected to rise, however, as the coastguard association Surf Life Saving said even more jellyfish are on their way thanks to north easterly winds working in their favour.More news: ‘Do not weaken’: Italy’s leaders back France’s ‘yellow vest’ protesters
Fortunately, most of the stings were caused by so-called bluebottle colonies, which are not life threatening.
Bluebottles, also known as Pacific man-of-wars, are responsible for between 10,000 and 30,000 stings along the country's east coast each year, according to the Australian Museum.
"I have never seen anything like this - ever", he said.More news: Technics relaunches legendary DJ turntable with SL-1200 MK7
"Those colonies also live in these armadas - sort of a population of the colonies - in the middle of the open ocean".
"Bluebottles have definitely been fairly rambunctious lately, pretty much throughout southeast Queensland, they've been coming in large numbers in a lot of places", Dr Gershwin told the public broadcaster.
Dr Gershwin said a bluebottle's crest acted like a sail and they were pushed along by strong winds.
SLSQ warned beach goers not to pick up the jellyfish stranded on the tide lines and if stung, advised people to take a very hot shower and apply ice.More news: Clemson routs Alabama for national title