A sting from one of the 6 different species of Box Jellyfish will produce what is called, Irukanji Syndrome. The small sub species Carukia barnesi, is the only known small jellyfish to cause the syndrome. The Box Jellyfish has tenticles which drape from each corner of it’s square shaped body. The tiny Carukia barnesi, has just one tenticle from each corner, whilst the larger Cheronex Fleckeri has 15 tenticles from each corner. Both are almost transparent in colour and extremely difficult to see in the water.
Each centimeter of tenticle (1/2 inch) contains 3 million sting cells, which creates excruciating pain instantly, and the victim is as much at risk of drowning with the pain as they are at risk from the toxin.
Box Jellyfish are found north of Exmouth on the western coastline, and Gladstone on the eastern coastline, and extend up into the warm tropical waters to the tip of Australia. They are prevalent from September until June every year, although their numbers vary from year to year. Nothing is known of where they go to in the remaining 2 months of July/August, which is the middle of Australia’s winter season.
The immediate treatment for a sting, is to pour copious amounts of vinegar on the affected area, and hospitalization as quickly as possible for treatment for the pain.
There is an antivennene, however this needs to be applied immediately for it to be
effective. A badly stung victim has generally 2 to 3 minutes to live.
Protective clothing whilst swimming is the best defence against being stung, such as a lycra body suit. Many beaches are netted to keep out the larger jellyfish, however the
Box Jellyfish have no brain, but they do have eyes. It is used to locate food, then using it’s tenticles, stings it’s prey, then draws it up into it’s square body for devouring.
They do not ‘mate’, both male and female release sperm and eggs into the water, where the eggs are fertilized. The cell then forms into a planulae, which swims or floats for a few days, before sinking to the ocean floor. Here it becomes a polyp, which grows and
becomes a ‘medusa’ or tiny jellyfish. It is now ready to swim away, to continue the life cycle of the Box Jellyfish.