Beach information in Queensland Australia
Queensland Beaches of Australia

Dangerous Marine Stingers

The most notable concern when swimming at beaches in Queensland is marine stingers. All Queensland beaches north of Town of Seventeen Seventy (near Gladstone) can attract the marine stingers during the summer months of the year.
Beaches in the northern section of Queensland have longer stinger seasons than beaches in the south due to the warmer water and greater prevalence of mangrove swamps.

Dangerous Marine Stingers are present at Queensland beaches during the following periods:

From Cape York to Townsville - October to June

From Townsville to Gladstone - December to March

Most popular beaches in areas prone to marine stingers have stinger-resistant enclosures so beachgoers can enjoy swimming throughout the year. It is important to swim inside the enclosures as they are the only safe swimming zone on the beach.
The nets are constructed of a robust floating tube that defines the swimming area. Hanging from this floating tube is 25mm square mesh that descends to the ocean floor and is weighed down by chain. The stinger nets are designed to prevent large box jellyfish and large segments of box jellyfish tentacles from entering the enclosure.

Some beaches in Queensland that have stinger nets in use during summer include:

Port Douglas: Four Mile Beach

Cairns: Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove, Ellis Beach.

Tropical Coast: Mission Beach

Townsville: Rowes Bay, The Strand, Picnic Bay at Magnetic Island

Mackay: Seaforth Beach, Bucasia Beach, Halliday Bay, Mackay Harbour

Constant research and monitoring of marine stinger behaviour is conducted at Queensland beaches to try and develop more effective ways of combating marine stingers from the beautiful Queensland beaches. Surf Lifesaving Queensland have an effective policy of dragging nets through the water to determine if stingers are lurking off the beach. If any are found, beachgoers are warned and lifeguard activity is heightened. In addition, if a stinger at a Queensland Beach stings anyone the beach enclosure is closed until a change of weather patterns can drive the stingers away from the coastline.

Remedies for marine stings

Vinegar is the tried and tested way to treat a marine sting. Most beaches have containers of vinegar available for use if a sting occurs, located at the dune segment of beach. Pouring the liquid on the stung area deactivates the stinging cells, although this will not reduce the pain. Do not rub the victim's skin. Symptoms of a sting can include nausea and severe abdominal pain. It is necessary to go to the hospital and seek professional treatment.

The most dangerous marine stingers found in Queensland waters are the Box Jellyfish and Irukandji Jellyfish.

Box Jellyfish

Bix Jelly Fish Watch out for the nasty Box Jellyfish. Found in shallow waters north of Gladstone, they can administer a sting that can inflict searing pain and leave prominent scares. A sting, if severe enough, can also be fatal.
Box Jellyfish breed in mangrove swamps and they are more numerous after rain, which flushes them out of river systems towards beaches. It is very important to swim in stinger net enclosures to avoid making contact with the Box Jellyfish.

Irukandji Jellyfish

Irukandji are much smaller than box jellyfish, and inhabit a large sea area that includes the Great Barrier Reef and beaches.

At only 2cm in diameter, the Irukandji is most prevalent in northern waters of Queensland, such as beaches near Cairns. The sting is only moderately painful and scarring is minimal, but approximately 30 minutes after the sting the patient develops severe back and abdominal pain, limb or joint pain, nausea and vomiting, sweating and agitation.

Likewise with the Box Jellyfish, it is important to swim in stinger net enclosures and report any stings to Life Guards and other relevant local authorities.