Cairns Region Guide

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Jellyfish Season

Updated: 20-Mar-2017


We often receive phone calls from concerned travellers regarding the Jellyfish. 

Most jellyfish are harmless to man, however certain varieties may cause a serious reaction. Incidents involving serious marine stings in this area are becoming more common during the Stinger Season.  It is important to follow the below precautions to avoid being stung.    

At certain times of the year, jellyfish, commonly called marine stingers, can affect the coastal waters of North Queensland.  These stingers are easily avoided provided correct precaution is taken. 

Most local people choose not to swim in our local beaches during the stinger season.  All hotels and resorts have a swimming pool in North Queensland so there is no need to worry about where you can cool down.  We also have a wealth of beautiful rainforest waterfalls in the region and the water is very cool and refreshing. 

Visitors wishing to swim at beaches between November to May/June will need to take precautions. 

Precautions:  In order to prevent getting stung by marine stingers take the following precautions to ensure your day at the beach is enjoyable. 

*During this period you must only swim in protective swimming enclosures
*Always swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags
*Only swim in stinger nets if they are provided.  They offer a high degree of protection.
*Stinger nets are not stinger "proof)  Check with the lifegaurd. 
*Do not sit on the stinger nets. 
*Wear protective clothing (stinger suit)
*Slowly enter the water - marine stingers will move away given the time and opportunity
*Do not touch marine stingers washed up on the beach, they can still sting
*If you are travelling on your own boat take household vinegar
*Always make sure you have mobile coverage
*If in doubt treat as a sting (Better safe than sorry)

Jellyfish on the Reef:

If you are concerned we recommend wearing a stinger suit even when you are swimming at the reef.  Not only do stinger suits protect you from the sun at this very sunny time of the year, but, you will also save yourself the worry of being stung.  

Lycra suits and wet suits are available on all reef trips to protect guests from the sun and to reduce the possibility of stings & irritations.

Jellyfish at the reef are dependant on the weather conditions and all reef operators will take appropriate steps to ensure your protection if they believe conditions are such that there is a possibility of encountering these creatures.


Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri):
The box jellyfish is found along the coastline during the summer months (November to May/June). 

The predominat recorded stings from the Box Jellyfish are along coastal areas.  (ie; beaches) 
The box jellyfish is a coastal species and is not found out on the reef, but they can sometimes be found around islands close to the mainland. 

Chironex are large (almost transparent) jellyfish with a "box-shaped" bell (with 4 corners) up to 30cm in diameter.  They can have up to 15 "ribbon like "tentacles from each corner and tentacles can be up to 3 metres in length.  Early in the season the jellyfish are quite small but they grow quite large as the season goes on.   


Irukandji can be found coastally on reefs and islands and at times close to shore. 

They are very small.  Usually described as being the size of a finger nail, however they can grow up to 10cm in diameter.  They are transparent and also have a "box shaped" bell (with 4 corners).  They only have a total of 4 thin tentacles.  stingers that are sometimes encountered on the reef include the irukandji.  


1.  CALL FOR HELP  - Dial 000 for an Ambulance
2.  Emergency care  - Administer CPR if needed - Oxygen should be applied for Irukandji stings
3.  Treat the sting - Pour vinegar onto sting. 
4.  Seek medical aid - Transport to hospital. 

Both can cause a nasty sting, Vinegar can used on both box jellyfish and irukandji stings but not on blue bottle stings.  For blue bottles use cold water and ice.

For more comprehensive information please visit the Queensland governement health, Surf Life Saving Australia or Surf Life Saving Queensland websites.  These sites all come up when you search for information on Marine Stingers on google.   

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