Four children have been airlifted to hospitals in Queensland after being stung by Irukandji Jellyfish at beached on K'gari (Fraser) Island in a two day period. The first incident happened at about 10.30 am on Tuesday 27 December 2022, when a girl described as being of 'primary school age' was stung on the chest while swimming in a creek near Wathumba Beach. She was airlifted to the Hervey Bay Hospital in Pialba, on the mainland, and is described as being in a stable condition. The second incident happened at 2.40 pm the same day, when two girls aged five and seven were stung while swimming at Wathumba Beach. Again, both victims were airlifted to Hervey Bay Hospital, and are in a stable condition. The final incident happened the following day, when a young boy was stung, again in a creek near Wathumba Beach, and flown to Hervey Bay Hospital.
The Irukandji Jellyfish is a form of Box Jellyfish, Cubozoa, found along the northern coast of Australia, which has both a particularly potent sting and a very small size, making it particularly dangerous to swimmers. The Jellyfish are typically about 5 mm across, though they can reach as much as 30 mm, with tentacles between 5 and 50 mm in length. The sting of these Jellyfish is particularly potent, and can cause muscle aches, back pain, nausea, headaches, chest and abdominal pains, sweating, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases death.
Irukandji Jellyfish are found in the waters to the north of Australia all year round, and move south during the southern summer, making them a threat to bathers along the north Australian coast. The Jellyfish move further south in warmer years, and there are concerns that rising sea temperatures associated with global warming may lead to them moving further south in the future.