Ingham Daily Press

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Box jellyfish caught at Forrest Beach

One of the box jellyfish caught by lifesavers in a routine stinger drag outside the enclosure on Tuesday.

SURF lifesavers have netted three box jellyfish outside the swimming enclosure in a routine stinger drag at Forrest Beach on Tuesday.

The box jellyfish sightings are the first by lifesavers since the start of the official stinger season in November.

Forrest Beach patrolling member, Helen Kaurila was on patrol when her group caught the jellyfish in two separate drags on the morning patrol.

“This time of year, our patrols perform regular stinger drags to assess any risk stingers pose to the public.

“On Tuesday we dragged on both the north and south side of the net and found jellyfish on both sides,” Mrs Kaurila said.

“We also conducted drags inside the stinger enclosure for both box jellyfish and Irukandji as an extra precaution, and found nothing,” she said.

Mrs Kaurila said box jellyfish like calm, tropical conditions which bring them into shallow waters to feed on bait fish.

“On Tuesday the conditions were perfect for box jellyfish and catching three certainly reinforces that they are out there,” she said.

The catch is a timely reminder to beachgoers of the importance of swimming inside the stinger net enclosure.

Club President, Lyle Cantoni, urged the public to swim in the swimming enclosure at all times during the stinger season.

“As lifesavers it’s our job to keep swimmers safe and our three key messages are – always swim in between the flags inside the swimming enclosure, stay away from the floating pontoon [nets] and wear a lycra stinger suit or protective clothing while swimming,” he said.

Forrest Beach swimming enclosure has been a buzz with swimmers over the Christmas period, with both locals and tourists enjoying the water and the benefits of swimming with the added protection of the stinger net.

Mrs Kaurila said it was great to see so many beachgoers enjoying a swim in the stinger net enclosure.

“It was also great to see the swimmers reading the signs and taking extra precautions by wearing stinger suits and protective clothing,” she said.

Mrs Kaurila also warned those launching boats at the boat ramp to also be vigilant by wearing protective coverings over legs and feet.

“Even wading in water or fishing in knee deep water outside the net can pose a great risk as box jellyfish frequent shallow water and are very hard to see. You only know about them when it is too late,” she said.

The Club’s Director of Lifesaving, Lenny Chiesa said he expected box jellyfish would appear after a change in the weather to their more favourable calmer and warmer conditions.

“It’s no surprise they are present. We expect them this time of year but in the hotter, more humid weather it’s almost certain they will be there,” he said.

Mr Chiesa said it was encouraging to see beachgoers adhere to the warning signs and listen to the advice of lifesavers.

“Our lifesavers are there to give helpful advice to beachgoers so they can have a safe and positive experience at the beach,” he said.

Mr Chiesa said it was important to educate the public on stinger awareness and prevention, especially on the Chironex Fleckeri (Australian Box Jellyfish).

“If someone was to get stung by a box jellyfish, it would be very apparent as the sting is painful.

“Vinegar is used to treat box jellyfish stings by killing the tentacles. It’s important to flood the sting with vinegar,” Mr Chiesa said.

“A major sting is serious and can be harmful to humans, so it’s important to reduce the risk by always swimming in the net and wearing protective clothing.

“We don’t want people to fear the water. Beachgoers can still enjoy swimming in the net while taking extra precautions,” he said.

There has also been reports of box jellyfish sightings in waters at Dungeness.

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