Whitsundays Bareboating and Irukandji Sting Prevention

by Alan Milso


Whitsunday bareboat operators are commonly asked by charterers if they need to be concerned about jellyfish or stingers. The answer to this question and “should I be concerned about having an accident when I am driving my car” is the same and that answer is yes but within reason.

Time of Year

January has the most frequently recorded stings. Stings have been attributed to the Box Jelly during all months of the year but far and away the most frequent recorded stings occur between October and April. I would be interested to see how the recorded stings related to the increased numbers of tourist since this is also the peak season for them

Things to Watch For

Symptoms have been likened to both a heart attack and labour pains. Sharp rise in blood pressure, pains to the lower back, vomiting and a feeling of impending dread. The thing I find fascinating about this is that the initial sting is not usually felt and that symptoms do not occur for about 30-50 minutes. Typically the symptoms ease of and return in 30 minute intervals usually each one worse to the one before.

First Aid

Washing with vinegar is usually the best first aid if only to prevent more stings. Some would also suggest a compression bandage. As a bareboat charterer I would suggest that your first call should be to your charter company to obtain some initial advice and instructions especially since they will have the best idea of your position. The next step is usually a helicopter trip to Mackay Hospital for inter venous fluids, pain meds and observation

Reducing Risk

Best precautions are to wear what is commonly referred to as a “Stinger Suite” any reputable Bareboat Charter company will either provide them or refer you to where you can hire them. They are not a fashion statement especially for the more portly of us but they have a two fold purpose in that they are excellent for stopping sunburn which by the way is way more common a reason for spoiling a bareboat holiday than jellyfish stings


I believe the probability of being stung by an Irukandji while bareboat chartering in the Whitsundays is quite remote but the precaution of wearing a stinger suite is not a high price to pay for piece of mind. When my family is snorkelling we all wear them. They are not a great fashion statement especially for the ladies but a pair of boardies over the top does wonders for the look. See you on the water.

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