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The Box Jellyfish season across the top of northern Australia
starts around October and lasts until April or May. Further
south along the northern Queensland or northern Western Australian
coast the season is usually from November to March though
in Darwin they have been spotted even in the dry season. They
sometimes appear further south and sometimes a few weeks beyond
the official close of season before disappearing until the
next wet season.
Box Jellyfish hunt small crustaceans and small fish. They travel towards the shore in calm weather on a rising tide and congregate near the mouths of creeks and rivers following rain when food is washed down these watercourses to the waiting Box Jellyfish.
Fortunately they only live close to shore so you can still go out to the Great Barrier Reef which is too far offshore for them.
For mobility, the Box Jellyfish contracts with a jet-like motion, shooting itself along up to speeds of 4 knots. It is presumed to have eyes connected to a nerve ring and the creature can take evasive action or move towards its prey.
Most towns in northern Australia will have a stinger net installed to allow people a relatively safe swim in the ocean to cool down, although they keep box jelly fish out the Irukandji, Bluebottles and other small jelly fish can still get through the net. The nets also have to be managed, checked and maintained as sometimes crocodiles have been found in the nets!
The Box Jellyfish uses its tentacles to kill its prey. If a swimmer makes contact with the Box Jellyfish's tentacles, perhaps only 6 or 7 metres of them, death may result! Children may die after even less contact. The severity of the sting is relative to the size of the Box Jellyfish, the sensitivity of the victim's skin, and the amount of tentacle that has come into contact.
A very large Box Jellyfish has tentacles that, if placed end to end, would measure more than 60 metres, so it is not unusual for a rescuer to inadvertently become entangled in another section of the tentacles and suffer the same fate. Sometimes the victim somehow manages to get ashore only to die within a few minutes.
First Aid you can try in a situation like this includes washing
the affected areas with vinegar (often bottles are placed on stands
along northern beaches) and mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR
if the victim becomes unconscious as the toxin paralyzes the muscles
that normally control breathing and heart beat.
Do not rub the stings as more tentacles may fire off, just pour on the vinegar that will stop any unfired tentacles from doing more damage. Remember the emergency phone number is 000 in Australia.
Of course it is better to not get stung in the first place and to wear a stinger suit, on Stingersuits.com you can read all about this Australian invention and see where they are for sale.