CPR First Aid

Venomous Spiders Found in Perth

Bluebottle Jellyfish are a Menace to Australian Swimmers

The bluebottle jellyfish is a common sight in coastal waters around the world. While generally harmless to humans, they can deliver a painful sting. The venom of this jellyfish is potent enough to kill small fish and sea creatures. So if you’re swimming or boating in an area where these creatures are known to be present, it’s best to take precautions.

Always check for signs warning of their presence and if you do get stung, seek medical help right away. There are treatments available that can lessen the effects of the sting, but it’s always better to avoid getting stung in the first place.

Bluebottles are Not True Jellyfish

What do bluebottle jellyfish look like? It is a species of venomous marine jellyfish, presenting a significant risk to swimmers and beachgoers in Australian waters. It gets its name from the blue colour of its floating barrel-like pneumatophore, which is inflated with gas and provides buoyancy.

The bluebottle (Physalia physalis) is also commonly known as the Portuguese man-of-war, due to its similarities in appearance to the 17th century sailing vessels of that name. Despite their striking resemblance, bluebottles are not true jellyfish but instead colonial organisms composed of a number of individual zooids, each with a specific function.

Beaches in Australia with Reported Bluebottles

Bluebottle jellyfish are reported along the east coast of Australia from northern New South Wales to southern Queensland. In summer, they are also found in waters off Western Australia and South Australia. Most bluebottle jellyfish feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other marine invertebrates.

What Causes a Bluebottle Sting?

The bluebottle’s venomous sting is what makes bluebottle jellyfish such a dangerous predator in the ocean. The sting is delivered by long, thread-like nematocysts that are fired into the skin of unsuspecting victims. Its venom contains a mixture of phenols and proteins that kills its prey but is harmless to humans. However, it is possible that children, the elderly and people who have allergies will develop a severe allergic reaction to these proteins or phenols.

How Does a Bluebottle Jellyfish Sting Feel?

A bluebottle jellyfish sting feels like a sharp, burning pain. The pain is caused by the jellyfish’s venom, which is injected into the skin when the jellyfish’s tentacles come into contact with it. The venom causes the area around the sting to swell, become red and be very itchy. The sting is extremely painful that may last for hours or even several days. In some cases, it can also lead to:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • the pain can be so severe that it requires hospitalisation

The tentacles moving about your body or touching the stung area will make this pain worse. If you are stung by a bluebottle, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How Do You Know It’s a Bluebottle Sting?

A bluebottle jellyfish sting can be recognised by the intense burning pain it causes, as well as the red marks that it leaves on the skin. In some cases, the sting may also cause swelling and blistering.

Bluebottle Sting First Aid Steps

If you are stung by a bluebottle jellyfish in Australia, it is important to follow the proper first aid steps in order to minimise discomfort and the risk of further injury. What you need to do:

Remove the tentacles 

It is important to remove any remaining tentacles from the skin as they can continue to sting even after the jellyfish itself is no longer present. This can be done with a pair of tweezers or by carefully rubbing the affected area with a piece of sandpaper, credit card, or similar object.

Rinse the wound

Once the tentacles have been removed, rinse the affected area with seawater (if available) or vinegar. Do not use fresh water as this can trigger further stinging.

Apply a cold compress

Applying a cold compress for 10 or 15 minutes to the affected area can help to reduce pain and swelling. Do this if running water is not available.

Seek medical attention

If you experience severe pain, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately as these may be signs of a more serious reaction.

Monitor the wound

Even after following the above steps, it is important to monitor the affected area for signs of infection or further reaction. If you experience any redness, swelling, or pain that persists or worsens, call triple zero (000).

Complications of a Bluebottle Sting in Adelaide CBD

Each complication of the bluebottle jellyfish sting is very serious and can be life-threatening. The most common complications are anaphylaxis, cardiac arrest, and death. Other possible complications include:

  • Neurological damage
  • Muscle pain and cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory distress
  • Coma

Severe Allergic Reaction from a Jellyfish Sting

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur after exposure to an allergen or an animal sting. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing.

Anaphylactic reactions can occur very quickly and may be fatal if not treated immediately. If you are allergic to jellyfish stings, it is important to carry an epinephrine injector with you at all times and to know how to use it.

Cardiac Arrest from a Bluebottle Sting

It is possible to get cardiac arrest from a bluebottle jellyfish sting. The venom of the bluebottle jellyfish can cause an abnormal heart rhythm, which can lead to cardiac arrest. This is a very rare complication of a bluebottle jellyfish sting, but it can occur.

First Aid Steps for Cardiac Arrest

When someone has a cardiac arrest, it is a medical emergency and they will need immediate treatment. First aid for a cardiac arrest involves performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to try and restart the person’s heart. If you are trained in CPR, you will need to start chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute. You will also need to call for emergency medical help. 

If you are not trained in CPR, then you will need to call for emergency medical help and let the operator talk you through the resuscitation steps. CPR training in Adelaide for a cardiac arrest is vital in order to try and save the person’s life.

Ways to Prevent a Jellyfish Sting in Adelaide

If you’re swimming in waters where jellyfish are present, take extra care and precautions to prevent getting stung. Here’s how.

  • Wear a wetsuit or protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Avoid touching jellyfish, even if they appear to be dead. If you must touch one, use gloves or some other type of barrier between your skin and the jellyfish.
  • Use caution when swimming near areas where jellyfish have been seen, and be sure to watch for any signs of them in the water.

If you do get stung by a jellyfish, rinse the area with salt water as soon as possible. Seek medical attention if necessary.


In Australia, bluebottle jellyfish stings are a relatively common occurrence. While the sting itself is not usually life-threatening, it can be extremely painful and cause a great deal of discomfort. Jellyfish activity and stings have been reported each year all across Australia. Enrolling in a first aid course at Level 1/174 Gilles St, Adelaide 5000 is proven to be beneficial in emergency circumstances like this.

Apart from SA, CPR First Aid (RTO 21903) offers its various CPR and first aid courses in different Australian locations. Give us a call or send us your enquiry for more information.

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