Marine Creatures

Australia’s waters are home to many interesting and fascinating creatures, including bluebottles, some of which can be the cause of painful stings!

Tips to avoid Marine Creatures:

  • Always swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags.
  • Look for and obey the safety signs
  • Ask a lifesaver/lifeguard for help and advice.
  • Swim in the stinger nets where provided.

Bluebottles

The bluebottle (physalia) is probably the most well known jellyfish around the Australian coastline. Their blue, balloon like sail sits above the water and is attached to a long tentacle extending below it. This tentacle is covered in stinging cells called nematocysts. When this touches the skin it reacts by injecting a small amount of a toxin which causes irritation and can be quite painful.

How to treat a sting:

  • Wash off any remaining tentacles with seawater, or pick off with your fingers (they can’t usually sting through the tough skin on your fingers).
  • Immerse the patient’s sting in hot water (no hotter than can be easily tolerated).
  • If local pain is not relieved or immersion facilities are not available, the application of cold packs or wrapped ice is also effective.
  • Refer to medical aid for further treatment if condition deteriorates.

Sharks

There are also many types of sharks around Australia. Most are harmless to humans. Although humans fear sharks, they are an important part of the ecosystem and a reality of the ocean.

Tips to minimise a shark encounter:

  • Avoid swiming at dawn and dusk
  • Avoid swimming at river mouths or in murky, discoloured waters
  • Avoid swimming in or around schools of baitfish