Stacey Leasca
January 07, 2019

It’s official: The jellyfish uprising has begun.

Over the weekend, thousands of people were victims of jellyfish stings along the coast of Australia, in what experts are calling an “epidemic.”

The jellyfish stings took place along both the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, located north of Brisbane, according to Fox News. Combined, more than 3,500 people were stung in both locations by the bluebottle jellyfish species.

The species, the Australian Museum explained, are often referred to as Portuguese Man o' War. The creature isn’t just one single animal, but rather what the museum explained as a “colony of four kinds of highly modified individuals (zooids). The zooids are dependent on one another for survival.”

Together, the zooids create a sail-like shape. And when the wind picks up, the jellyfish can travel long distances until they reach the shore.

“I have never seen anything like this — ever,” Surf Life Saving duty officer Jeremy Sturges told News.com. “Not everyone reacts the same way but there have been very serious reactions.”

News.com further reported, the onslaught of bluebottle jellyfish may be due to unusually strong northeasterly swell conditions, which pushed the jellyfish onshore. There, the sea creatures clumped together and have wreaked havoc. Because of this, lifeguards have been forced to close several popular beaches.

And, as Sturges importantly noted, these shoreline jellyfish are just as dangerous as the ones in the water.

“People have been hurt as they just walk along the shoreline. Don’t pick it up, don’t walk on it or you will be stung,” he said.

If you happen to be stung by a bluebottle, Queensland Ambulance has a bit of advice. It tweeted, “If you’re stung by a bluebottle try and pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs. Avoid using vinegar if it’s clearly a bluebottle sting.”

The stinging isn’t likely to subside soon. According to the Australian Museum, about 10,000 to 30,000 stings are reported along the east coast of Australia each year. However, it’s key to note that no fatalities have been confirmed from these animals in the Southern Hemisphere, according to the museum. Still, maybe avoid any adorable blue sailing jellyfish around you just to be safe.

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