Bluebottle Invasion! What To Do If You Get Stung

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It was a rare and shocking sight last week during one of our favourite hike events at Wilson’s Prom. Masses of bluebottles washed up on the shore, their alien like tentacles tangled around in a big blue mass. The dreaded Bluebottle. 

What are they?  How do you treat a sting if you are unlucky enough to cross their path? 

Bluebottles normally congregate in the warmer waters of New South Wales and Queensland, but unusual wind conditions can bring them further south in significant numbers- which many people are currently witnessing along our shorelines from Anglesea right around the bay from Cape Bridgewater to Wilson Prom. 

Although bluebottles appear to be single animals they’re actually colonial organisms known as siphonophores. Their tentacles can stretch up to 160 feet in length and are lined with nematocysts, or stinging cells. These cells are equip with barbs carrying venom to immobilize and kill their prey.   

Even dead Bluebottles and detached tentacles can sting. But what is actually a Bluebottle sting and how can it be treated? Though rarely deadly, a Bluebottle sting can be dangerous to children, elderly people, asthmatics and people with allergies as it can cause fever, shock and respiratory distress.

How To Treat A BlueBottle Sting:

DO: 

  • Remove tentacles- using your fingers is fine as the skin is normally tough enough to withstand the sting getting through
  • Rinse with salt water (not fresh water) to remove stinging cells 
  • Immerse immediately in hot water or apply ice

DO NOT:

  • Rub sand over the sting (it just gives you a rash around the sting)
  • Pouring soft drinks over the sting (just makes it sticky)
  • Pouring vinegar over the skin (is vitally important for TROPICAL marine stings, but not for non-tropical stings)
  • Urinating over the sting (it’s just gross, and doesn’t work anyway!)

Be sure to seek medical help if pain persists or other symptoms present after the treatment.  

For more info click here. 

STAY SAFE OUT THERE! 

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