The deadly Irukandji jellyfish is moving south along the coast of Queensland and with warming sea temperatures it may become a regular at beaches as far south as the Gold Coast.
Toxicologist, Associate Professor Jamie Seymour from James Cook University, has “little doubt” Irukandji will end up at the popular beach after a stinger was found at Fraser Island Sunday.
Their southerly migration, Prof Seymour warned, would force beach closures and could “collapse tourism.”
But Queensland Tourism Industry chief Daniel Gschwind dismissed Prof Seymour’s concerns.
“We are concerned about any potential risk but there is no need to be alarmed at this point,” he said.
Fears about Irujandji come after one was caught on the western side of Fraser Island on Sunday, which prompted a warning for swimmers to stay out of the water.
There were 10 suspected Irukandji stings on the western side of Fraser Island between December 22, 2016, and January 5 last year, while a boy was stung on Mooloolaba Beach in early 2017.
The highly venomous jellyfish was found in a stinger drag on the western side of Queensland’s Fraser Island by Surf Life Saving Queensland on Sunday and sent to jellyfish expert Professor Jamie Seymour who confirmed it as an Irukandji.
“We’re urging everyone to stay out of the water entirely on that western side of the island while conditions are hot and humid,” Surf Life Saving Queensland regional manager Craig Holden said on Wednesday.
SLSQ has upgraded its stinger response with daily drags to find the jellyfish after a spate of serious stingers hit the area between late 2016 and early 2017.
There were 10 suspected Irukandji stings on the western side of Fraser Island between December 22, 2016, and January 5 last year.
Mr Holden said if a person was stung a triple zero call should be made immediately and the sting area should be doused with vinegar as soon as possible.
He added that people should take a bottle of vinegar with them if they are heading to the island.
“We don’t want to cause widespread panic, but it is really important for people to exercise caution and put safety first at all times.”