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Can anyone tell me about the "STINGY THINGS" on the Australian beaches in December?

Can anyone tell me about the "STINGY THINGS" on the Australian beaches in December?

Old Jul 19th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Can anyone tell me about the "STINGY THINGS" on the Australian beaches in December?

We want to go up to Port Douglas? I would like to get my feet into the water but, I am hearing about the jelly fish.
Can I get a little more info? I heard something about nets?
Thanks,
Sun
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Old Jul 19th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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Its not all Australian beaches just those above the Tropic of Capricorn line, and that goes for all other areas of the world as well in that zone. Indonesia, Malaysia etc have the same problem, if not the same "animal".
There are 2 main nasties: one is a tiny jellyfish, about the size of your little fingernail which can inflict a dreadfully painful and deadly barb into your flesh. The worst thing about these little critters is that it is hard to net the beaches against them. However they are only on the mainland and not around the reef areas and the reef islands.
The other nasty is the Box jelly fish which is just like a bigger cousin to the little guy and has the same effect - it can kill you! However you can wear a suit that will stop their sting and again they are not around the reef areas. I personally would wear the suit anyway there. At least you can net swimming areas against this one.
They are in the water from about October to March in the tropics and apparently they spawn in the creeks and rivers on the mainland but not everything is known about the little jellyfish.
So that was the reason I suggested that you would have to find a beach that was south of Rockhampton ( which is on the Tropic of Capricorn ) unless of course you were to stay on one of the GBR islands and swim. I was in Port Douglas last December and snorkled on the GBR but I did wear a suit which has the added advantage of saving you getting sunburnt - something you forget when you are so engaged watching the little fish underwater whilst your back and legs are getting fried!
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Old Jul 19th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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Yes, the little guy is called the irukandji and until a couple of years ago it wasn't considered deadly. Then, in the one year, two tourists died snorkelling in North Qld waters (one in Whitsundays and the other near Low Isles off Port Douglas). Both tourists had history of heart problems, but that's not much consolation. Liz is right, it's not just a problem in North Qld - jelly fish stings are responsible for human deaths in other tropical waters, southern Thailand, Indonesia, etc. But as Liz says, wear a stinger suit, there's a miniscule chance of jelly fish sting but 100% certainty of sunburn in summer.
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Old Jul 20th, 2004, 07:18 PM
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Been lurking on this board forever! I really appreciate all of the wisdom so generously shared!

I've been concerned about the stingers too. I've prepared my 6-yo for the various nasties she might encounter (she's particularly concerned about sharks) -- but NOT the jellies. We live in Arizona, so she's excited to spend some time in the ocean. We'll be in Cairns (no beaches, I know) at the beginning of October; is there a chance that swimming (in Port Douglas or Palm Cove) might be safe? Should I rent a suit there, or should I just get her a suit here (we'll be 8 days in Cairns and 6 in Sydney)? And what do I tell her about the stingers so as not to scare her?
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Old Jul 20th, 2004, 10:50 PM
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Heard a radio post this morning, that the irukandji jelly fish poison is being investigated because it causes male erections! If you don't die, this can be a problem too!
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Old Jul 20th, 2004, 11:51 PM
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Good God Carabella, well, that's a by-product we didn't know about.

Stormytrooper - in Cairns city there is an new, huge, safe, stinger-proof swimming lagoon which is full of kids all day at most times of the year. It's just a bit cold for the local kids at the moment. Of course any resort at PD or PC will have a more than adequate swimming pool. Please don't let your little girl be concerned about sharks in this area, maybe you heard of the recent tragedy in WA where a surfer was taken by a great white shark. That's about as far from FNQ as NY is from southern CA. The reef sharks up here are harmless - they're small and not likely to be around the beaches. October - May is the usual stinger season from Mackay northwards. Am sure you'll be taking a reef trip - be guided by the crew as whether to wear a stinger suit, but I'd be keeping a 6yo in one anyway, to guard against sunburn if nothing else.

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Old Jul 21st, 2004, 04:06 AM
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Perhaps that is the reason they are so deadly - once all the blood drains away from the male's brain, there is a danger of all sorts of silly things happening - trying to breath under water, etc
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Old Jul 21st, 2004, 02:15 PM
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Stormytrooper, but be concerned with sharks in Australia, especially, in Nth. Queensland, where you mainly get reef sharks.
When you consider the huge coastline that we have, and the large number of people swimming on Australian beaches each year, and possibly only 1 person being taken by a shark, then the odds of being taken are pretty low. In fact, we have more people die from bee stings, than a shark attack.
The main thing in Nth Qld, is to be guided by local knowledge in regard to stingers.
Have a great time on our barrier reef.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 01:27 PM
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Whoops, my first sentence should read, "Don't be too concerned about sharks in north Queensland".
Some people in Australia seem to take great delight in telling overseas visitors, about all the dangerous creatures we have in this country. I still remember on a return flight from Europe, hearing one aussie telling a Dutch guy about our spiders, snakes, etc. and I thought hang on this visitor will probably never see one of these creatures during his stay.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 02:26 PM
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Thanks Pat and tropo! I'm definitely not concerned about the sharks, given the long odds, but the potentially unseen jellies worry me, although not enough to avoid the ocean if it's likely to be safe! You definitely could not call me paranoid. We live in the Arizona desert, with rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters (I've seen one in the wild), and Black Widow spiders that live on my back porch. Oh yeah, and on Monday it was 113F (48C). I think I'll be much better off in OZ!
My husband might be interested in the irukandji researh, though ;-)
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 05:03 PM
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Hi Stormytrooper - coming from Arizona I didn't think you'd be too concerned about our creepy crawlies and at least we don't have venomous lizards! As tropo says, some Australians (particularly Cairns taxi-drivers) delight in terrifying overseas visitors about our wildlife. Old-time Cairns residents tell me that when they were children no-one was at all concerned about box jelly fish and kids swam happily in the sea all summer - there is a theory that a decline of turtles may be partly responsible as they're natural predators of box jelly fish.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 05:35 PM
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And as anyone who has ever been on the Backpacker circuit will know, if the real creatures aren't scary enough, there are also the mythical, such as the Bunyip, and the straight leg-pulls, such as the Drop Bear (Carnivorous Koala, which sits quietly in a tree until an unsuspecting person stands under it, then "drops" and devours the persn), and; the Hoop Snake, (which pursues its prey rapidly down-hill by grasping its tail in its mouth, forming itself into a perfect circle, and rolling after it, at a pace often faster than a human is able to run).

Fortunately the last two are absolute fantasy, and I have only everseen them explained in a jocular fashion - never with the intention of truly terrifying visitors!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:04 PM
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Stormytrooper, if you get homesick for your black widows we can help. I believe that the Australian redback spider is a fairly close relative. The redback is a passive beast that lives in dark places under rocks, garden rubbish etc. You only get bitten if you inadvertently grab them. They're black, with spindly legs and (mostly) have a bright red marking on their backs. They're venemous little buggers, though, and not to be trifled with - a friend of mind was bitten when picking up an old brick and ended up in hospital, quite ill for a short time.

Can't help with the rattlesnakes, though. Our snakes are not into audible warnings.

I believe the Drop Bears were once used by Australian soldiers during a joint US-Australia jungle warfare exercise in North Queensland, in the hope of psyching out their American 'enemies'.

A few years ago ranger in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, had to calm down an alarmed Israeli tourist who cliamed to have come across "a crocodile in a tree". It turned out to be a goanna, a large but harmless lizard.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:51 PM
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And Neil, a Japanese tourist recently went beserk in a rather up-market accommodation house at Trinity Beach because there was a gecko in his room. After squashing the poor thing (he must have been swift to catch it) he created an uproar at reception demanding another room. Try as they might the reception staff tried to convince him that house geckos are everywhere here but to placate him gave him another room - guess what, another gecko!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 08:27 PM
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Whatever happened to the spirit of the Samurai?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2004, 08:56 AM
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You have to love the legend of the Drop Bears and Hoop Snakes!
Guaranteed to make even the most worldly of urban 8-12 year olds gulp when on their first torch-lit night hike into the bush!

If they insist on keeping we teachers up until 3am on the first night of School Camp, we HAVE to have some "comeback"!
Possum
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Old Jul 24th, 2004, 03:44 AM
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To Stormytrooper - I've never heard of a Gila Monster - what on earth is it?
Kay
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Old Jul 24th, 2004, 09:49 AM
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Kay -- a Gila Monster is a large (12-24 inch) venomous lizard that is only found in Southwestern North America. It's very rare to see one in the wild, but because they are striped bright orange (usually) and black, they're distinctive. The bite injects venom, but because they are scavengers, there's quite a bit of bacteria in there as well. The biggest problem is that when they bite, they clamp on and don't let go. Unfortunately, they're protected, so it's illegal to kill them, although I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted after being bit. Here's a link from the local zoo: http://www.phoenixzoo.org/zoo/animal...s/gilamons.asp
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Old Jul 24th, 2004, 02:01 PM
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Wow! My husband and I are coming to Cairns in the September school holidays for 6 days - I must remember about these wonderful mythical creatures to share with my class of 8 - 10 yo when I return! Does anyone know if there is a suitable children's book about the famed Bunyip? I remember listening to the Bunyip stories on the children's radio request programme in New Zealand on a Sunday morning many years ago, and would love to be able to share those with my class as well. We are snorkelling at Agincourt Reef (thanks for your local knowledge, Pat, but we decided THIS time to go to Agincourt as my sister's husband, a non-swimmer, really enjoyed the experience there. Also, my nephew, a keen international birdwatcher and expert, said we would not be able to do much on the Cay because it is nesting time. Next time when my husband is a little more confident we will go to Michelmas Cay)and am now wondering if we should be wearing a suit in September. And do they make them in "large-lady" sizes?! Stormytrooper, we were very impressed with the swimming lagoon in Cairns when visiting there last September, and as Pat says, it was inhabited by children for most of the days. It is the most awesome setting for a swimming lagoon, and well worth visiting. In fact the whole of the Cairns promenade is fabulous - a credit to the Cairns residents / council. I really find this site amazing for the sharing of practical and far-superior-than-travel-brochures-can-supply information. Wish I had discovered this site sooner.
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Old Jul 24th, 2004, 04:12 PM
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There are any books on the Bunyip but here is one which has other legends and myths including the bunyip that you may like:
THE BUNYIP - and other mythical monsters and legends
BARRETT, Charles
Book Description: Melbourne, Reed & Harris 1946. First edit. Barrett, who was one of Australia's greatest travellers within his own country, looks at the mythical Bunyip and other monsters from legends and myths of the Australian Aborigines. Several fascinating pictures of Aboriginal rock paintings depicting the Bunyip are used throughout the book. 215 x 175mm., pp. 120, b/w plates.
Another one of course is Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding which is the story of Bunyip Bluegum and you can download this book on the following:

The Magic Pudding
Norman Lindsay

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