The Irukandji Jellyfish is really tiny but fatally venomous – it is just one cubic centimeter. It is found in the marine waters around Australia. The symptoms are known as the Irukandji Syndrome. There are two kinds of Irukandji Jellyfish – Malo Kingi and Carukia Barnesi. Hugo Flecker first documented the symptoms of the Irukandji Syndrome in 1952 – named after the Irukandji folk who inhabited the coastal strip tat lies north of Cairns in Queensland. Carukia Barnesi was the first species to be identified by Dr. Jack Barnes in 1964. Dr. Barnes, wanting to prove that this jellyfish had caused these symptoms, got himself to be stung by it, along with his son and a life guard.
The Irukandji jellyfish is tiny with it’s bell being 1 cubic centimeter and tentacles, covered with clumps of stingers ranging from 2 – 35 centimeters. Due to the Irukandji’s small size, it is very difficult to keep in a lab therefor little research has been done. One of the more interesting features of this Jellyfish is the stingers attached to the bell, which is unusual for Jellyfish. The venom of the Irukandji is incredibly powerful, over one hundred times more powerful then a cobra and over a thousand times more powerful then a tarantula. It is known to disable small prey at lighting speed.
To picture how the Irukandji jellyfish stings it’s prey, imagine a long sock, turned inside out and coiled along the lines of the spring. Microscopic stingers, with numbers in the millions are responsible for the venom release. These stingers, which resemble a long inside out sock and coiled along the lines of a spring, once triggered are pulled right side out, uncoil in an instant and attach right into the body of any predator unlucky enough to come close to the Irukandji. When the victim of the encounter moves away, the stringers are pulled from the tentacles and are embedded in the victems’s body. An interesting fact about the Irukandji is it’s unique ability to fire stringers from it’s tips to inject the venom, a unique phenomenon.
Burning on the area of contact, drop in blood pressure and heart rate, sweating, severe and intensely pain muscle cramps in the arms, legs, back and kidneys are some of the Symptoms of Irukandji Syndrome, a very painful and unpleasant experience. Ocean explorers beware, the Irukandji Jellyfish!
Once stung by an Irukandji you will begin to experience symptoms of the sting within 4 – 30 hours. These symptoms may take up to 2 weeks to completely go away, pain management being the only solution as there is no known anti-venom. The pain of the sting can be so intense that people have been known to request death from the doctor due to the pain. The best way to be safe is to avoid the Irukandji if you can. Be aware of the diving and swimming conditions when planning activities in regions where the Irukandji is known to inhabit. Divers beware, the Irukandji Jellyfish!
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