Australia’s Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast were swamped by swarms of Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish over the last weekend, leading to the closure of some of the main hotspot beaches.
According to Surf Life Saving Queensland, there were over 13,000 stings recorded over the past week – which is three times more than the same period in 2018 – and some 2,600 people had to receive treatment just over the weekend.
Despite a fearsome reputation, stings from Portuguese man o’ war – also known by the far-more-benign name bluebottle jellyfish – are painful, but generally not life-threatening. Applying ice or hot water is normally enough to counteract the sting, though some people did require treatment from paramedics.
It is thought that unusually strong winds had driven the jellyfish into shallow waters and on to the beaches.
However, Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish expert from Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, said that while it was unusual to see such numbers at this time of year, given the abnormal weather conditions, which included strong winds and warm periods, it was to be expected that the jellyfish would thrive. Portuguese man o’ war are generally seen off the coastline during the summer months.