Beaches along Australia’s Gold Coast are closed after nearly 4,000 people were stung by jellyfish over the weekend.
Hordes of bluebottle jellyfish are being pushed from their natural habitat in the middle of the open ocean as a result of strong northeasterly winds affecting the area.
But an armada of an estimated 40,000 bluebottle jellyfish are coming too close to shore, and officials have closed Northcliffe, Currumbin and Tugun beaches, saying too many people have been stung.
In fact, Surf Life Saving Queensland said 3,595 people have been stung in the past weekend. The lifeguard agency had to treat more than 300 stings on Monday alone, and paramedics had to be called to treat particularly severe stings on a 14-year-old boy and a 32-year-old woman.
“Look, stay away from them,” said Jason Argent of Surf Life Saving Queensland, in an interview with Reuters.
Argent explained the jellyfish are not only underwater – people walking along the shoreline have reported stepping on jellyfish in the sand.
“If you’re walking along, just pay a bit of extra attention because they still can be alive and active and sting you on your foot,” Argent said.
A sting from a bluebottle jellyfish feels like a sharp pain, and is immediately followed by swelling of the skin. Tentacles that end up stuck on the flesh must be pulled off, and the injured area should be rinsed with hot water before it is elevated and treated with ice, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recommended. Sometimes, a sting can lead to anaphylactic shock.
Some officials believe the recent bluebottle invasion is a result of climate change.