Australia: Thousands of Venomous Jellyfish Cover Beach in Eerie Blue Glow

Last week thousands of jellyfish known as Portuguese man o’ wars, or bluebottles, washed onto shore in New South Wales. The phenomenon is likely due to warming waters, and if you plan to visit the world down under in upcoming months you may witness it for yourself.

The scene was discovered by 45-year-old Brett Wallensky and his partner Claudia as they went for a walk along a beach. According to Wallenskey, the sight was “the stuff of nightmares,” National Geographic reported. “There must have been thousands of them beached and they were all alive and wriggling,” said Wallensky, according to StoryTrender. “It was just horrible to look at them wriggling around and trying to sting you. If you fell in there and got that many stings all over you I can’t imagine you would survive.”

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Although it's not entirely clear how so many of the poisonous creatures wound up alive stranded on the beach, Christie Wilcox, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, told Gizmodo that it was likely a combination of increased jellyfish populations due to warmer waters combined with an ideal beach setting for the jellyfish to become washed upon shore.

“It looks like the location happens to be a place where debris pushed ashore clumps together naturally (like how some places on a beach get mats of seaweed while others are clear),” Wilcox told Gizmodo.

Related: Tens of Thousands of bizarre, jelly-like sea creatres wash up on New Zealand beach 

As for the sheer number of jellyfish, past reports have indicated that the quantity may be a side effect of the warming waters off the coast of Australia. According to The Guardian, jellyfish particularly thrive in harsh conditions. While other ocean creatures may suffer due to rising oceans temperatures caused by climate change, the jellyfish rapidly reproduce. This leads to overpopulation of jellyfish, which some experts warn could worsen. This problem isn't isolated; it's also been recently documented in Texas to England.

This particular type of jellyfish is poisonous, although not as venomous as the Atlantic Portuguese Man-o-War, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. A single sting from a bluebottle likely won’t do much more harm beyond great discomfort. Still, as Wallensky noted, there’s no saying what could happen if one were to unfortunately find themselves among thousands of the venomous creatures.  

 

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