JellyFish Facts

Fatal Jellyfish Sting

Fatal Jellyfish Sting picture

Fatal Jellyfish Sting

With close to 2000 estimated species of Jellyfish, there is much to be said about these enigmatic sea creatures. Jellyfish are beautiful and yet they can be deadly- but just like the much feared snakes, a very small percentage of the jellyfish species are actually capable of delivering a fatal jellyfish sting. While most of the Jellyfish species do sting, a few are completely harmless.

Northern Australian waters harbor a good many deadly jellyfish species. The Box Jellyfish or Cubozoa class of Jellyfish comprises over 19 different species, not all of which are killer Jellyfish. However, a species known as the Chironex fleckeri is the most venomous of these jellyfish. Because of their potential deadly nature, Chironex fleckeri is often referred by the common name of Cubozoa, while ignoring other less deadly and unimportant species of jellyfish that fit into this class. An adult jellyfish can be very large; its tentacles alone can be upto 3m in length. The venom of the Chironex fleckeri is widely considered to be the most lethal of the entire animal kingdom. The poison from a single Chironex Fleckeri is potent enough to kill 60 adults. When stung, first aid must be administered immediately since death can result within 3 to 5 minutes, which is far quicker than that of any other venomous animal bite.

Smaller sized jellyfish have a typically smaller surface contact area and thus are less lethal- it is the concentration of stinging cells called 'nematocysts' that are distributed over the tentacles that decide the level of toxicity. The creature is almost entirely transparent and is therefore hard to spot. The Box jellyfish are also found in large numbers in tropical regions around the world like the Hawaii, the Caribbean, Philippines, etc. More information on the Box jellyfish can be obtained in our article on Killer Jellyfish

Another species of the Cubozoa, known as the Carukia barnesi has also been known to cause a few deaths in the past. The sting of the Box jellyfish is only noticed after venom has been injected. While the jellyfish sting and kill throughout the year, the October through May poses the highest risk for a fatal jellyfish sting. Also, warm waters pose a greater potential risk. Maximum stings have been reported to occur during a period of what is described as 'sleep', between 3pm and dawn.

Although no sure deaths have been recorded, the Malo kingi is another species of box jellyfish notorious for its deadly venom. Its sting is known to cause extreme pain; if not immediately, after a short while.

The sting of the Chironex fleckeri sometimes causes cardiac arrest and so performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be required. Vinegar has proven an effective tool in saving many lives- acetic acid, a component of vinegar causes the box jellyfish's nematocysts to dysfunction. Vinegar should be immediately applied on the stung skin. Even if tentacles are still stuck onto skin, vinegar should be applied before pulling them off. These tentacles are still capable of stinging and caution must be exercised while plucking them off. Looking for a good Jellyfish Sting Remedy?

More information is available in our sections on Jellyfish Stings and Jellyfish Sting Safety

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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