Jump to content

Deadly Irukandji Outed By Scientist


Recommended Posts

Speaking of bitey and stingy things....

From today's Sydney Morning Herald.

The rare species of irukandji jellyfish that killed an American tourist off far north Queensland has been identified by a leading marine biologist.

Surf Life Saving Queensland national marine stinger adviser Lisa-ann Gershwin said the irukandji responsible for Ohio man Robert King's 2002 death was a member of the genus group Malo.

She said it was rarely seen in Australian waters.

Mr King, 44, died in Townsville Hospital from irukandji syndrome after being stung while snorkelling in waters along the Great Barrier Reef, off the popular tourist spot of Port Douglas.

Dr Gershwin said stinger cells collected from the clothing Mr King was wearing when he was stung were the same as those gathered from the new species of irukandji.

The new species of irukandji will be formally named later this year.

"I've known about this type of irukandji for about eight or nine years but didn't have all the evidence to link it," Dr Gershwin said.

"The first time I saw it I knew it was dangerous. It's incredibly toxic, incredibly potent, but very rare."

Dr Gershwin, an expert in all matters irukandji after naming four of the known 10 species, urged swimmers to don protective lycra suits if venturing into waters known to contain marine stingers.

She said lycra and wet suits, and to a lesser extent pantyhose, could prevent potentially fatal stings.

The stinger season runs from October to May along the Queensland coast.

Dr Gershwin said she had informed Mr King's former partner of the discovery.

Mr King was the second tourist to die from an irukandji sting.

British man Richard Jordan, 58, also died from irukandji syndrome while swimming near Hamilton Island three months earlier.

Dr Gershwin said two scientific research groups - one in Townsville and another in Melbourne - were currently working on an anti-venom for irukandji stings.

The sting from an irukandji, measuring just 1.5cm but containing up to 80cm-long tentacles, has the potential to cause a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to a cerebral haemorrhage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...