Tiny jellies cause heart failure and are too small for nets
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 November, 2013 - Of all the creatures in the world, the Irukandji is among the most fearsome. It’s about as easy to spot as a floating sliver of cellophane.
But a mere human brush with these tiny creatures causes hearts to fail and blows out blood vessels in the brain. Even those that survive are racked with suffering so extreme that it’s been given its own name (“Irukandji syndrome”). Fortunately for most, these little guys don’t travel outside a shred of the ocean in northern Australia.
However, research suggests that while the ocean’s rising acidity might keep them up north, warmer coastal waters could help Irukandjis reproduce further and further down the continent’s east coast—and smack into some of Australia’s biggest tourist hotspots.
The threat of another deadly jellyfish, the box jellyfish, has been manageable. Northern Australia has had to put up nets during peak swimming season to protect beach-goers.
But those nets are likely too coarse to work on Irukandjis, says Kristen Rathjen, an ecologist who worked on the study.
“These guys are so small [that] when they actually strobilate [meaning "hatch," in a sense] into a swimming organism they’re about the size of your pinky fingernail,” she tells Quartz. “[They] can pass through coarse nets and you’re not going to see them.”