Tiny Gelatinous Murderers
Australians generally refer to the constellation of species comprised of extremely dangerous coastal jellyfish as “marine stingers” or “sea wasps”. Their more common designations are Box Jellyfish (for the larger, blobbier kind) and Irukandji, for the minuscule gobs of gelatinous cells that might as well be invisible to swimmers, given that they are only 2 cm in size and impart stings that can prove lethal to anyone unfortunate enough to brush against one in the briny. These unseen killers have been responsible for a rash of deaths obvious and not-so-obvious, and several children were recently airlifted from Australian beaches after falling victim to the little spit-wads’ potent venom. Researchers believe that even more “deaths by Irukandji” have occurred but remain unrecorded because the fatalities have been written-off as cardiac arrests. Hey, Aussies: if Grandpa keels while doing the butterfly out there on a sunny day, don’t assume it’s down to a malfunction of his tired ol’ ticker. Irukandji stings can induce almost immediate cardiac arrest … along with excruciating pain, nausea, and paralysis of the lungs. Neurotoxin Jamboree!
At all events, one sensible bloke is raising the alarm about the need for further research and prevention when it comes to humans encountering these murderous globules of sea-snot. A great portion of attention is being lavished upon the habits and horrors of more exciting and camera-ready villains like great white sharks and saltwater crocodiles in Australia, but marine stingers may be the more pressing everyday problem for anyone entering the oceans and estuaries. And recent studies and accidents indicate that these marauding Demon-Loogies are increasing in offshore numbers. Probably a result of climate change or the Chinese. Who knows? Well, THAT is precisely why certain people Down Under are insisting that it’s time to find out. Read more about the phenomenon HERE.
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