Surf lifesavers are pleading with swimmers across North Queensland to take care and cover up following five suspected Irukandji stings this week.
In the past week alone there have been two stings reported at Trinity Beach, and one each at Cow Bay, Green Island and Clifton Beach.
SLSQ North Queensland regional manager Col Sparkes urged beachgoers to exercise extreme caution in the water, with the recent northerly winds creating ‘perfect conditions’ for the dangerous marine stingers.
“We’ve obviously seen an influx in Irukandji across the past few weeks and, with that in mind, it’s really important for swimmers to be extremely vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves in the water,” Mr Sparkes said.
“If you are heading to the beach for a swim, I can’t stress enough just how important it is to only ever swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags, and within the stinger-resistant nets at all times.
“That significantly increases your protection when it comes to marine stingers, and also ensures that lifesavers or lifeguards are on-hand to assist immediately if there is an incident,” he said.
Mr Sparkes said regular stinger drags were conducted by lifesavers and lifeguards, and SLSQ would always act to protect the beachgoing public.
“While the nets aren’t 100% ‘stinger-proof’, lifesavers and lifeguards regularly drag in and around the enclosures, and will close the beach if any marine stingers are discovered,” he said.
“There are also basic precautions that swimmers can take to avoid the risk of a nasty sting. Wear protective clothing such as a wetsuit or lycra body suit to reduce exposure to potential stings and it’s always a good idea to enter the water slowly, as marine stingers will sometimes swim away from people if given the chance.”
Mr Sparkes said prevention was always the best protection, and by adhering to the following simple measures, swimmers could enjoy their time in the water and stay safe at the same time:
• Swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags
• Read and follow warning signs
• Only swim in stinger-resistant enclosures
• Wear protective clothing (wet suit, Lycra body suit, long clothes) to reduce exposure to potential stings
• Enter the water slowly (box jellyfish will often swim away from people given the opportunity and time)
• Never enter the water if a beach has been closed