Australia Closes Queensland Beaches Over Thousands of People Stung by Jellyfish

Ambulance Service shows a bluebottle jellyfish washed-up on Surfer's Paradise beach in Queensland Australia on Jan 6 2019

More than 5000 people were stung by bluebottles on Queensland's Gold and Sunshine coasts over the weekend as weather drove a wall of jellyfish onto the shore.

Beachgoers in Queensland, Australia were in for a shock after strong winds pushed enormous numbers of jellyfish ashore, stinging thousands and forcing the closure of numerous state's famous swim spots.

Since the start of December, there have been more than 18,000 stings recorded in Queensland, compared with 6,000 for the same time past year.

While bluebottle stings are quite among beachgoers in Australia, the increase in the number of people being stung has gone up steadily in the past few days.

Coastguard association Surf Life Saving said a "whopping" 3,595 people had suffered painful burns after encounters with the creatures, also known as bluebottles for their transparent bluish appearance.

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish expert from Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, agreed it was unusual to see gatherings in such numbers.

Numerous affected beaches reopened on Monday.

"Those figures, the 22,282, are for about five weeks and that's just one teeny tiny smidgin of Australia, so that is a lot".

Over the last week, around 13,000 stings were recorded on the Gold and Sunshine Coast regions, three times more than normal.

While researchers are still examining how much recent heat waves may have contributed to the current jellyfish bloom off Australia's coasts, they can already say with certainty how they got to the beaches: Unusually strong north-easterly winds pushed the bluebottles onshore and they are clumped in their thousands along the shoreline.

"A bluebottle has that sail that sticks up - so the wind grabs the sail and drives them ashore", Dr Gershwin told the BBC.

"It's nature's way of making sure the population never becomes extinct". "If stung, ensure you see a lifeguard to be treated with ice or hot water".

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