Jan 5, 2019
Three more Irukandji stings were reported just yesterday -- two at Fraser Island and one in the Whitsundays -- bringing the season's total to 19 so far, which is almost double the ten-year average of 10 per year for this time of year.
There are several likely explanations for this:
- natural season to season variability
- lower than average infestations the last couple of years (and nature is just making up for it)
- abnormally warm year so far
I've been getting a lot of queries about the effect of rain on Irukandjis, and on what this means for the rest of the season in terms of higher or lower risk. Let me take those one at a time:
The effect of rain on Irukandjis: In my own research, I have observed no effect between rainfall and Irukandji abundance, and I am aware of no published or otherwise credible research that indicates otherwise.
Seasonal outlook: To have this much stinger activity in the past two months and still another five months left in the season, suggests that there is likely to be many more stings to come. People should take all standard stinger safety precautions and remain vigilent but not alarmed. Follow lifeguards' or dive managers' instructions. And don't forget to stash a bottle of vinegar in the boot of the car and another in the boat -- that way you'll have it handy in the off chance that you need it.
I'm all set to deliver the Marine Stinger Management certification course this coming Wed, 9 January, in Cairns. Feeling empowered and hoping to make a difference!
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