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AUSTRALIA | Under the sea

Jellyfish invasion: Thousands stung along popular coast

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 4:31 PM - Several beaches are closed along Australia's Gold Coast after thousands of people were stung by highly-venomous bluebottle jellyfish.

Northcliffe, Currumbin and Tugun beaches were closed on Sunday following more than 5,000 reports of injured beach-goers, according to ABC Australia.

The outlet reports more than 22,000 people have been stung in the region since the start of December.

Strong winds are driving the jellyfish towards the coast during the region's peak beach season.

"We're probably expecting the bluebottles to hang around for the next part of the week, probably through to late Thursday or Friday," Surf Life Saving Queensland Life Saving Operations Co-ordinator Jason Argent told Reuters.

RELATED: The animal without a brain that's taking over the ocean)

"We're still seeing a lot of easterly type winds, which is making an onshore wind and onshore swell, and that'll keep driving the bluebottles closer to the beach."

Bluebottles, also referred to as the Portuguese man o' war, live near the ocean surface.

It looks like a singular organism but is actually comprised of a colony of creatures called zooids that are incapable of living as individuals. While typically found in tropical regions, man o' wars have previously been spotted in Canada in the Bay of Fundy.

The highly-venomous creatures have tentacles that can grow up to 9 metres in length and are designed to paralyze, and even kill, small prey.

In humans, the stings can cause intense pain and fever.

With files from Reuters


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