Thousands stung in Australian jellyfish 'invasion'

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish at Pakiri Beach

Swarms of bluebottles have caused beaches to be closed in Queensland. Getty

The official word from one expert: A "hell of a lot" of people have been stung by jellyfish lately on Queensland's Gold and Sunshine coasts in Australia.

Swim spots in Queensland, Australia have been shut down after bluebottle jellyfish stung thousands of beach goers.

Across Queensland, but mostly in the southeast, 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to 6831 in the same period past year.

While bluebottle stings are quite among beachgoers in Australia, the increase in the number of people being stung has gone up steadily in the past few days.

That number is expected to rise, however, as the coastguard association Surf Life Saving said even more jellyfish are on their way thanks to north easterly winds working in their favour.

Most of those stung were on the Gold Coast, while there were also many stung on the Sunshine Coast.

Numerous affected beaches reopened on Monday.

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Speaking to ABC, AMSAS director Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin said some swimmers who were hospitalised after suffering a suspected allergic reaction to a bluebottle sting may have actually been hit by the bluebottle's larger relative, which boasts multiple stingers - and can cause symptoms easily mistaken for anaphylactic shock. The beaches were forced to be shut down over the weekend to tackle the situation.

"I have never seen anything like this - ever", he said.

If you've recently emerged from the waters of Queensland wrapped up in bluebottle stings, you not alone.

Bluebottle jellyfish colonies appear like blue-tinged sacs which measure up to 15cm (6 inches) long.

Bluebottles, also known as Pacific man-of-wars, are responsible for between 10,000 and 30,000 stings along the country's east coast each year, according to the Australian Museum. Due to the northeasterly winds, we will continue to see bluebottles hanging around.

Dr Gershwin said a bluebottle's crest acted like a sail and they were pushed along by strong winds.

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