Swimmers stung by jellyfish
Geraldton swimmers were stung by jellyfish on the weekend, and according to an expert, their presence is not common in the area at this time of year.
Three women with groups of children reported being stung while swimming at Town Beach.
Anne Paton said her husband, two of her children and other beachgoers were stung while swimming around the pontoon.
“My daughter’s shouting became screaming and quite alarming, so my husband swam to go get her. Once she was on the sand we could see the sting was intense.
“I offered to wee on her — she must have thought I was crazy. We agreed to take her up to the hospital.
“As we were packing up I saw a whole family group had swam out to the pontoon and a small child was swimming out. I could hear her wailing and screaming as they pulled her up onto the pontoon.”
Kate Parke said her and her friend were out with their nine children and were swimming at the northern end of the beach on Saturday afternoon when more than half of them were stung.
Nicole Maher said her daughter Stella was also swimming off the pontoon on Sunday afternoon when the 14-year-old was stung. She took Stella to see a GP after she had an allergic reaction to the sting.
“I’d be curious to know what kind of jellyfish it was because the doctor said it was not a regular stinger type,” she said.
WA Museum marine invertebrate curator Zoe Richards said two kinds jellyfish were often found in Geraldton — bluebottles and western stingers — but not usually at this time of year.
“If there are strong onshore winds bluebottles can be blown on to the coast in big swarms and become stranded on the beach,” she said.
“Bluebottles usually turn up in summer but occasionally high-pressure systems in the ocean in tandem with onshore winds lead to the arrival of the blue fleet.
“Western stingers can actively swim and have good control of direction. When environmental conditions are right they can swarm.”
The severity of bluebottle and western stinger stings varies between species and individuals, with some people feeling pain for a few hours while others can go into cardiac arrest or have breathing difficulties.
Dr Richards said the best way to prevent stings was to avoid swimming, because the tentacles were hard to see in the water.
City of Greater Geraldton acting chief executive Radalj said the city had not been made aware of any increased sting incidences recently.
“If there were to be an alarming number of reports the City would work with other government agencies such as Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to deploy an appropriate and reasonable plan of action,” he said.
“Much like incidents of shark sightings or reports of sea hares on local beaches, in the past the City has erected signage to either close the beach due to a shark sighting or make the community aware of sea hares.
“Community members are advised there is the potential of being stung at some local beaches, dependant on conditions at the time.”
Royal Life Saving WA recommends not rubbing the affected area but gently removing any remaining tentacles with tweezers or fingers, and then washing the wound area by showering in hot water.
Treat the sting with ice to stop swelling and manage pain, while in more serious cases spray with vinegar and seek medical treatment.
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