Following the launch of the new trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand, travel risk managers are busy warning international travellers of destination-specific risks of travel – including those that are not Covid-related.
In February 2021, a teenager tragically died after being stung by an Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) while swimming in Northern Australian waters – near the town of Bamaga in Cape York. Touted as the most venomous marine animal in the world, there’s little that can be done following an Australian box jellyfish sting. As Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, Australian Marine Biologist and leading expert on jellyfish, explained, the venom works so fast that, in most cases, treatment isn’t successful – CPR and defibrillators won’t work. Stinger nets and protective clothing are among the key defences to protect swimmers against box jellyfish stings.
Climate change: beware of jellyfish blooms
Resources note that of the 50 or so species of box jellyfish (also called sea wasps), only a few have venom that can be lethal to humans. However, those lethal varieties are primarily found in the Indo-Pacific region and in northern Australia – among them the Chironex fleckeri.
Furthermore, experts have warned that the numbers of these sea creatures are increasing, as are incidents with multiple people stung at the same time. Indeed, in an article published by the NZ Herald in January 2021, readers were warned that jellyfish blooms are expected to be a common sight this summer, with rising ocean temperatures one of the main causes of substantial population growths.
While Australian and Kiwi travellers are likely already well-acquainted with the dangers of the water, it’s always worth alerting travellers of the risks, especially in the more secluded areas that travellers may be heading for, where resources are limited.