If you’ve recently emerged from the waters of Queensland wrapped up in bluebottle stings, you not alone. Like, seriously. You could hardly be less alone in your pain.
22,282 people sought medical treatment due to those blobby boys in the Sunshine State between December 1, 2018 and January 7, 2019, which is more than triple the number of punters who asked for help with a bluebottle sting over the same time period one year ago.
The Australian reports that on Monday alone, a stunning 526 people sought treatment after being accosted by one of those floaty bastards.
It ain’t just bluebottles which have made a strong showing, either. 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.
Perhaps even more concerningly, a jellyfish expert has suggested a giant, rare, and unclassified version of the bluebottle may be causing havoc without swimmers knowing it.
Speaking to ABC, AMSAS director Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin said some swimmers who were hospitalised after suffering a suspected allergic reaction to a bluebottle sting may have actually been hit by the bluebottle’s larger relative, which boasts multiple stingers – and can cause symptoms easily mistaken for anaphylactic shock.
Dr Gershwin said the rarity of the phantom jellyfish makes it hard to determine if they are responsible for the more severe stings attributed to bluebottles, but it’s not out of the question.
Unseasonably warm waters across much of the state have encouraged big ol’ spikes in jellyfish populations, especially in Queensland’s southern reaches.
The jellyfish are expected to linger around the coastline for a while yet, and swimmers have been advised to check in with local lifesavers for more specific condition reports.