Rare jellyfish re-discovered in Reef Marina

Tuesday February 17 2015, 3:40pm

The re-discovery of a rare type of box jellyfish in Port Douglas’s Reef Marina could help in treating irukandji stings in the future. 

Tony Jones from Calypso spotted the pair of unusual box jellies floating in the marina on Monday and captured them along with Quicksilver’s in-house marine biologist Russell Hore. 

Russell identified the jellyfish as belonging to Genus Malo, a rare variety that he himself found the first specimen of in 1997. 

The Malo jellyfish are about twice as large as the more common Carukia barnesi box jellyfish, which are prevalent throughout the tropics. 

Along with Carukia, the Malo genus are part of the Irukandji group of jellyfish, characterised by their extremely potent venom - the effects of which are described by Russell as feeling like ‘having a hot-bladed knife jammed into your spine and twisted for eight hours’. 

In addition to severe pain, 'Irukandji syndrome' causes a rapid and sustained elevation of blood pressure, with irukandji jellies being identified as responsible for two fatalities in the past. 

Despite this, Russell said that there was no extra risk to marina users from the presence of the Malo jellies, which occur in unusually low numbers compared to their smaller brethren. 

“These would be the first specimens caught in the last two years, right now they are only found in Dickson Inlet,” Russell said. 

Instead, the re-discovery of Malo jellies is a positive development, Russell said. 

“I’ve actually preserved these specimens so we can work out exactly what species they are - this will help with developing all-encompassing treatments for irukandji stings.”