Northern Territory

Caution urged as stinger season begins

October 2017 marks the official start of the stinger season in the Top End. Stingers can be found in our sea waters at any time but they are at their peak from October 2017 until the end of May 2018.

“If you spend a lot of time on the water in the Top End, be alert and take appropriate steps to avoid being stung,” said Acting/Director of Centre for Disease Control Dr Charles Douglas.

As temperatures increase and the humidity rises, the sea water becomes warmer and stingers will start to populate the coastline.

Each year about 40 people present to Top End health facilities as a result of stingers.

People launching boats or other water craft should take extra care to avoid being stung as stingers prefer calm conditions and are often at the water’s edge, as well as in tidal creeks and around boat ramps.

Please make sure visitors and newcomers to the Territory are aware of the danger.

An adult box jellyfish can have 40 or more tentacles, each up to two metres in length which are loaded with venom. A sting can cause excruciating pain, and can cause rapid cardio respiratory arrest and even lead to death.

Children are at greatest risk as the venom injected during a sting has a greater impact due to their small size.

“The best advice is to stay out of the sea water but if you have to get in the water, cover up with a stinger suit or a long sleeved shirt and long trousers.”

If someone does get stung:

  • call for help (call 000)
  • douse the affected area with plenty of vinegar if you have it
  • if any tentacles are on the skin you can pull them off (the skin on your fingers is thicker so only minor stings may occur)
  • take the person to hospital
  • if they are really unwell you may have to do CPR or call an ambulance.

Source: NT Government