JCU Eduquarium Information Centre

Information Centre

During the tropical summer months, around November to May, stingers (including the big box jellyfish and the Irukandji jellyfish) may be present in the Queensland waters but don't panic: There are plenty of resources available to help you enjoy your stay in Tropical North Queensland.

Below you will find information about Cairns Beaches closures, lifeguards and stinger nets; we provide general information about different kinds of stingers (or jellyfish), and you can find out about First Aid and what to do if you do get stung by a jellyfish.

Surf Live Saving North Queensland (SLSNQ) beach reports

To minimise the risk of being stung by potentially dangerous jellyfish (marine stingers), follow these simple tips from Surf Life Saving North Queensland:

  1. Always swim at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags.
  2. Look for, and observe, warning signs.
  3. Where provided, swim in stinger-resistant enclosures, wear protective clothing and do not swim when beaches are closed.

How much do you know about jellyfish?

Watch National Geographic's fantastic video "Jellyfish 101" to cover the basics about jellyfish. Firstly, jellyfish are not even fish. You might also call them sea jellies to avoid confusion.

If you would like to read more about the wonderful world of sea jellies, check out National Geographic's article on jellyfish reproduction in their October 2018 edition.

First Aid for jellyfish stings is unfortunately still confusing and controversial and our team is working on finding a better solution.

Claims for jellyfish sting remedies range from ice water to pee, but if you got stung by a box jellyfish (Chironex), continued CPR and transfer to a hospital as soon as possible are the only remedies that can save your life. The easiest thing you can do is to cover your body with a stinger suit and swim within the stinger enclosures at a safe beach.

Surf Life Saving North Queensland provides regular updates on closed beaches and maps showing the location of stinger enclosures.

Andreosso, A., Bansal, P. S. P. S., Smout, M. J. M. J., Daly, N. L. N. L., Wilson, D., Seymour, J. E., & Daly, N. L. N. L. (2018). Structural Characterisation of Predicted Helical Regions in the Chironex fleckeri CfTX-1 Toxin. Marine Drugs, 16(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/md16060201

Andreosso, A., Smout, M. J., & Seymour, J. E. (2014). Dose and time dependence of box jelly fish antivenom. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1678-9199-20-34

Barnett, S., Saggiomo, S., Smout, M., & Seymour, J. (2017). Heat deactivation of the stonefish Synanceia horrida venom - implications for first-aid management. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 47(3), 155–158. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/50150/

Brinkman, D. L., Aziz, A., Loukas, A., Potriquet, J., Seymour, J., Mulvenna, J., & One, P. L. (2012). Venom proteome of the box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri. PloS One, 7(12), e47866. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047866

Brinkman, D. L., Konstantakopoulos, N., McInerney, B. V., Mulvenna, J., Seymour, J. E., Isbister, G. K., & Hodgson, W. C. (2014). Chironex fleckeri (box jellyfish) venom proteins: Expansion of a cnidarian toxin family that elicits variable cytolytic and cardiovascular effects. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289(8), 4798–4812. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M113.534149

Brinkman, D. L., Mulvenna, J., Konstantakopoulos, N., Hodgson, W. C., Isbister, G. K., Seymour, J. E., & Burnell, J. N. (2012). 106. Molecular Diversity of Box Jellyfish Toxins. Toxicon, 60(2), 148–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.04.107

Carrette, T. J., & Seymour, J. E. (2013). Long-term analysis of Irukandji stings in Far North Queensland. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 43(1), 9–15. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/29193/

Carrette, T. J., Underwood, A. H., & Seymour, J. E. (2012). Irukandji syndrome: A widely misunderstood and poorly researched tropical marine envenoming. Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 42(3), 214–223. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/25480/

Carrette, T., Straehler-Pohl, I., & Seymour, J. (2014). Early life history of Alatina cf. moseri populations from Australia and Hawaii with implications for taxonomy (Cubozoa: Carybdeida, Alatinidae). PLoS ONE, 9(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084377

Chaousis, S., Smout, M., Wilson, D., Loukas, A., Mulvenna, J., & Seymour, J. (2014). Rapid short term and gradual permanent cardiotoxic effects of vertebrate toxins from Chironex fleckeri (Australian box jellyfish) venom. Toxicon, 80, 17–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2014.01.007

Colin, S. P., Costello, J. H., Katija, K., Seymour, J., & Kiefer, K. (2013). Propulsion in Cubomedusae: Mechanisms and Utility. PLoS ONE, 8(2), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0056393

Courtney, R. (2016). Life cycle, prey capture ecology, and physiological tolerances of Medusae and polyps of the “Irukandji” jellyfish: Carukia barnesi. College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences. James Cook University. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/49935/

Courtney, R., & Seymour, J. (2013). Seasonality in Polyps of a Tropical Cubozoan: A latina nr mordens. PLoS ONE, 8(7), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069369

Courtney, R., Browning, S., & Seymour, J. (2016). Early life history of the “irukandji” jellyfish carukia barnesi. PLoS ONE, 11(3), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151197

Courtney, R., Browning, S., Northfield, T., & Seymour, J. (2016). Thermal and osmotic tolerance of “Irukandji” Polyps: Cubozoa; Carukia barnesi. PLoS ONE, 11(7), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159380

Courtney, R., Sachlikidis, N., Jones, R., & Seymour, J. (2015). Prey capture ecology of the cubozoan Carukia barnesi. PLoS ONE, 10(5), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124256

Daly, N. L., Seymour, J., & Wilson, D. (2014). Exploring the therapeutic potential of jellyfish venom. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 6(15), 1715–1724. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.14.108

Ellisdon, A. M., Reboul, C. F., Panjikar, S., Huynh, K., Oellig, C. A., Winter, K. L., … McGowan, S. (2015). Stonefish toxin defines an ancient branch of the perforin-like superfamily. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(50), 15360–15365. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1507622112

Gangur, A. N., Seymour, J. E., Liddell, M. J., Wilson, D., Smout, M. J., & Northfield, T. D. (2017). When is overkill optimal? Tritrophic interactions reveal new insights into venom evolution. Theoretical Ecology, pp. 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12080-017-0354-z

Gangur, A. N., Smout, M., Liddell, M. J., Seymour, J. E., Wilson, D., & Northfield, T. D. (2017). Changes in predator exposure, but not in diet, induce phenotypic plasticity in scorpion venom. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 284(1863), 20171364. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1364

Gordon, M., & Seymour, J. (2012). Growth, development and temporal variation in the onset of six Chironex fleckeri medusae seasons: A contribution to understanding jellyfish ecology. PLoS ONE, 7(2), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031277

Kingsford, M. J., Seymour, J. E., & O’Callaghan, M. D. (2012). Abundance patterns of cubozoans on and near the Great Barrier Reef. Hydrobiologia, 690(1), 257–268. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-012-1041-0

Kingsford, M. M. J., Pitt, K. K., Llewellyn, L. L. E., ..., O’Callaghan, M., Seymour, J., & Richardson, A. (2016). Project 3.6: Establishing a research framework for future NESP investment into better understanding of the presence of Box-Jellyfishes (Irukandji) and risks in … (Vol. Project 3.). Cairns, QLD, Australia: Australian Government. Retrieved from http://nesptropical.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/NESP-TWQ-3.6-FINAL-REPORT.pdf

Klein, S. G., Pitt, K. A., Rathjen, K. A., & Seymour, J. E. (2014). Irukandji jellyfish polyps exhibit tolerance to interacting climate change stressors. Global Change Biology, 20(1), 28–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12408

Little, M., Fitzpatrick, R., & Seymour, J. (2016). Successful use of heat as first aid for tropical Australian jellyfish stings. Toxicon, 122, 142–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2016.10.003

McClounan, S., & Seymour, J. (2012). Venom and cnidome ontogeny of the cubomedusae Chironex fleckeri. Toxicon, 60(8), 1335–1341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.08.020

McCullagh, N., Pereira, P., Cullen, P., Mulcahy, R., Bonin, R., Little, M., … Seymour, J. (2012). Randomised trial of magnesium in the treatment of Irukandji syndrome. EMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia, 24(5), 560–565. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-6723.2012.01602.x

McKenzie, L. J., Yaakub, S. M., Tan, R., Seymour, J., & Yoshida, R. L. (2016). Seagrass habitats of Singapore: Environmental drivers and key processes. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 2016(Part I), 60–77. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/45599/

Miller, T. L., Barnett, S. K., Seymour, J. E., Jenkins, T. P., McNamara, M., & Adlard, R. D. (2018). Biliary Tract-Infecting Myxosporeans from Estuarine and Reef Stonefish (Scorpaeniformes: Synanceiidae) Off Eastern Australia, with Descriptions of Sphaeromyxa horrida n. sp. and Myxidium lapipiscis n. sp. (Myxosporea: Bivalvulida). Journal of Parasitology, 104(3), 254–261. https://doi.org/10.1645/17-79

Neale, V., Smout, M. J., & Seymour, J. E. (2018). Spine-bellied sea snake (Hydrophis curtus) venom shows greater skeletal myotoxicity compared with cardiac myotoxicity. Toxicon, 143, 108–117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2018.01.009

Neale, V., Sotillo, J., Seymour, J. E., & Wilson, D. (2017). The venom of the spine-bellied sea snake (Hydrophis Curtus): Proteome, toxin diversity and intraspecific variation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122695

Payne, N. L., Snelling, E. P., Fitzpatrick, R., Seymour, J., Courtney, R., Barnett, A., … Semmens, J. M. (2015). A new method for resolving uncertainty of energy requirements in large water breathers: The “mega-flume” seagoing swim-tunnel respirometer. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 6(6), 668–677. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12358

Pereira, P., & Seymour, J. (2015). Marine injury, envenomation and poisoning. In P. Cameron, G. Jelinek, A.-M. Kelly, A. Brown, & M. Little (Eds.), Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine (pp. 1047–1050). London, UK: Elsevier. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/38942/

Pereira, P., & Seymour, J. E. (2013). In vitro effects on human heart and skeletal cells of the venom from two cubozoans, Chironex fleckeri and Carukia barnesi. Toxicon, 76, 310–315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2013.10.023

Saggiomo, S. L. A., & Seymour, J. E. (2012). Cardiotoxic effects of venom fractions from the Australian box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri on human myocardiocytes. Toxicon, 60(3), 391–395. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.03.025

Saggiomo, S. L., Zelenka, C., & Seymour, J. (2017). Relationship between food and venom production in the estuarine stonefish Synanceia horrida. Toxicon, 125, 19–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2016.11.250

Seymour, B., Andreosso, A., & Seymour, J. (2014). Cardiovascular Toxicity from Marine Envenomation. In M. S. Ramachandran & P. Thirumalaikolundusubramanian (Eds.), Heart and Toxins (pp. 203–223). London, UK: Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-416595-3.00007-4

Seymour, J. E. (2017). Are we using the correct first aid for jellyfish? Medical Journal of Australia, 206(6), 249–250. https://doi.org/10.5694/mja17.00053

Sladden, C., Seymour, J., & Sladden, M. (2013). Jellyfish stings. In M. Lebwohl, W. Heymann, J. Berth-Jones, & I. Coulson (Eds.), Treatment of Skin Disease: comprehensive therapeutic strategies (pp. 373–374). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/39494/

Underwood, A. H., Straehler-Pohl, I., Carrette, T. J., Sleeman, J., & Seymour, J. E. (2018). Early life history and metamorphosis in Malo maxima Gershwin, 2005 (Carukiidae, Cubozoa, Cnidaria ). Plankton & Benthos Research, 13(4), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3800/pbr.13.

Underwood, A. H., Taylor, S., & Seymour, J. E. (2013). Range extension of the Cubozoan, Tripedalia binata Moore (Cnideria: Carybdeida: Carybdeidae) from far north Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum - Nature, 56(2), 607–614. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/30066/

Welfare P, Little M, Peireira P, S. J. (2014). An in vitro examination of the effect of vinegar on discharged nematocytes of Chironex fleckeri. Diving Hyperb Med, 44(1), 30–34. Retrieved from https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/32959