Bluebottles are one of nature’s many fine creatures with their beautiful Purple-Blue-Turquoise colour they can seem quite mesmerising and beautiful to many, but don’t be fooled by these wonderful creature’s colouring and shape! Bluebottles sting thousands of Australian swimmers every year – from ocean swimmers, children frolicking in the shallows to walkers walking along the beach. A bluebottle can sting you at any time of day!
In Australia we are renowned for many dangerous and strangely beautiful creatures. Some of these include the Blue Ring Octopus, the Box Jellyfish and the Bluebottle. Although the box jellyfish can be found in warm waters in northern Queensland, other parts of Australia are known for having Bluebottles and Blue Ring Octopus.
With tentacles that can reach up to three meters long and brought in by strong winds and forceful currents, a Bluebottle’s sting can be both irritating and extremely painful, lasting up to 5 or more hours of constant pain.
Although most surf and swimming beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, some more sheltered and private beaches do not contain the luxury of handsome surfy lifesavers that are kind enough to put up warning blue bottle signs. If in any case you see a bluebottle washed up on the sand do not attempt to pick it up, especially by its tentacles! They contain thousands of individual stingers that if come into contact with anything or anyone they will released poison and stick to your skin. If you wish, with caution using only your finger tips and with your nails pick up the bluebottle by its head and burying in a deep hole away from shore to prevent anyone stepping on it later on in the day.
Some people prefer to pop its bubble with the heel of their foot, but this in some cases can cause the stingers to stick and sting the bottom of their feet!
If by unfortunate chance you are stung by a bluebottle, remove the stingers carefully with your finger nails and seek medical attention off a local lifeguard as soon as possible, irritation and itching can last hours but the stinging can be stopped if run under hot fresh water (It use to be cold ice and cold water) – either way anything to stop the irritation will help (vinegar was once suggested to help too)!
Although they may look like beautiful creatures they can cause extreme pain and in serious cases, allergic reactions.
Don’t worry if there are blue bottle signs up, swimming is still encouraged, just be aware and best check the shore line first to see how many have been washed up on shore to give a rough indicator as to the likely hood of being stung!