As the Whitsundays have warm, tropical waters, they are host to many types of marine animals, including jellyfish and marine stingers. There are many types of jellyfish that live here, with the two most well-know as the Irukandji jellyfish and box jellyfish. You can protect yourself from stingers by wearing a stinger suit, which are on board every Whitsunday Catamaran.
The quality wetsuits are also for use against sunburn but their main function is to protect guests in the very unlikely event that you come into contact with any stinging jellyfish. They are few are far between, but as they are still there, it’s best that passengers protect themselves in peak season. Stinger Season' falls between November and May and extra care should be taken.
Irukandji are not considered deadly but there have been known fatalities that have occurred as a result of being stung. In most cases the fatality was caused by a complication that came from a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure. Little is known about the biology of any of the jellyfish that cause 'irukandji syndrome,' which is what happens when a person is stung by a stinger. They are a small, transparent jellyfish which is about 25 mm across the body or 'bell' with a single tentacle from each corner of its box-shaped body. As they are not easily seen in the water, your best bet is to cover yourself in a stinger suit, which will protect you from stings.
The box jellyfish is a potential hazard to swimmers along the Queensland coast. They have a cubed like shape, which is where they get their name and are agile swimmers and can maintain a pace of three to four knots. The extended threads of the jellyfish can measure up to 3 metres long and there can be as many as 15 on each corner. Although the stingers are strong enough to penetrate the skin of a normal adult the palms of the hands should not be affected as the skin is thicker. The sting is extremely toxic that affects the skin, blood and heart muscle.
Generally Box Jellyfish will gather along the coastline and are uncommon at the Whitsundays snorkel and diving sights. However, wearing a stinger suit will you protect you fro their stingers so it’s a good idea to always wear a stinger suit when swimming in stinger season in all waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays.
Blue Bottles are jellyfish occasionally found washed up on Whitehaven Beach, while they are not deadly, they do have a nasty sting from the attached tentacles. If seen or you come into contact, immediately wash the area down with vinegar (which is stocked on all of our catamarans). Again, you can avoid stings by wearing a stinger suit.