Stinger expert warns of event, 'All hell will break loose'
EXCLUSIVE: A marine expert from James Cook University warns the usual end of the official stinger season will not come at the end of April this year.
Associate professor of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Jamie Seymour told The Daily Mercury increased water temperatures and heavy rain had increased the likelihood of irukandji and box jellyfish being active in Whitsunday and Mackay waters beyond this month.
"With the current temperatures I would be suggesting the stinger season will be elongated for at least another 3-4 weeks," he said.
"When we get water temperatures elevated beyond what they normally would be and it then comes down to whether we get these monstrous south-east sea breezes and when the rainfall events occur.
"Last year the big rainfall events were back in December and January and that tends to fire up the (stinger) season."
He said the significant rainfall event of 2-3 weeks ago down the east coast had "fired up the (stinger) season again".
Mr Seymour said the typical life cycle of stingers was up to three months.
"You then need to add two months to that roughly before you are going to see those animals get to maturity, spawn and die."
If strong winds develop off the coast the animals will not have the chance to get to shore and spawn and numbers will be reduced.
"The biggest issue now, in the next week or two if we get three or four days of really calm weather all hell will break loose," Mr Seymour said.
"Because the animals will come ashore and they are going to end up where people are swimming before they die."
Both irukandji and box jellyfish begin life as polyp before getting a biological cue and turn into a tiny jellyfish about one millimetre long.
Mr Seymour said increasing water temperature was diving irukandji further south each year. They have been responsible for stings as far as the Sunshine Coast.