Thousands of Bluebottle Jellyfish have been washing up on the shores of Australia forcing the closure of several beaches.
Beaches along Australia’s northeast coast have been closed after nearly 4,000 people were stung by bluebottle jellyfish.
Surf Life Saving Queensland said it treated 304 bluebottle stings on Monday. Over the weekend, 3,595 people were treated, the lifeguard agency said.
Groups of bluebottles, called armadas, live in the middle of the ocean. Recently, strong northeasterly winds have caused swells that push the bluebottles closer to shore.
Since Dec. 1, the Australian Associated Press reports, 22,282 people have sought treatment for bluebottle stings in Queensland, compared with 6,831 in the same period a year ago.
Typically, there are about 10,000 cases of bluebottle stings each year on the east coast of Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said.
A bluebottle sting causes an immediate sharp pain and acute inflammatory skin reaction, the RACGP also said. A sting is usually treated with heat or ice packs. In some cases, a sting can cause anaphylactic shock.
Bluebottles, are not true “jellyfish.” They belong to a group of organisms known as siphonophores.
Bluebottles look like Portuguese man o’ war but they are distinct species. The blue-tinged “float”
at the top is filled with gas and can measure up to 6 inches long. Tentacles dangle below the float.
They get picked up by the wind and blown as long as the wind keeps going or until they hit land and strand on the beaches.