NEW FINDINGS: Associate Professor for James Cook University and advisor to Surf Life Saving Queensland, Jamie Seymour caught this Irukandji in January 2017.
NEW FINDINGS: Associate Professor for James Cook University and advisor to Surf Life Saving Queensland, Jamie Seymour caught this Irukandji in January 2017. Valerie Horton

Swimmers told to be aware of dangerous jellyfish in Cooloola

SWIMMERS are being warned to be vigilant on the Cooloola Coast and Sunshine Coast beaches after a spate of incidents with Irukandji jellyfish.

The potentially deadly jellyfish has been discovered twice in waters off Fraser Island during the past two years.

Irukandji jellyfish
Irukandji jellyfish Contributed

Emergency Specialist Doctor Simon Jensen spoke to the ABC Sunshine Coast and said presentations to emergency departments support the argument that the jellyfish is moving further south.

"We would expect that to be happening again so people need to be careful particularly between Fraser Island and the mainland if they're swimming there,” Mr Jensen told the ABC.

The Climate Council of Australia released a report showing the jellyfish is moving south.

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, said warming sea temperatures will push them as far south as the Gold Coast.

"There's absolutely no doubt that certainly for Irukandji their distribution is temperature limited,” Prof Seymour said.

"So when the temperature gets too low they die or they're not capable of surviving in those sorts of conditions.”

The small box jellyfish can cause a range of symptoms, including severe pain for several hours and headaches and has been responsible for at least two deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations.

Up to 100 people are hospitalised each year.

According to the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, directed by Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, Irukandji jellyfish are reported in waters over 26C.

"They are real, they are true, they are dangerous but they are rare. The chances of getting stung are actually very, very low,” she said.

Anyone who is stung by an Irukandji jellyfish should seek medical assistance and cover the sting area with vinegar.