Sunday, 1 March 2015

Creature 152: Chironex fleckeri

This Jellyfish can kill you 60 times over

Chironex fleckeri is a type of box jellyfish known as sea wasps due to their excruciatingly painful sting.

Comparing them to wasps is understating their sting, because these nasty Cnidarians can deliver enough venom to kill a person within 3 minutes. There is apparently enough venom in one box jellyfish to kill an adult human 60 times over. It bears up to 60 tentacles which can reach 3 meters long each and is covered in literally millions of stinging cells which will be activated upon contact with your skin. They only hunt during the day. They probably recognize day from night with their clusters of light detecting organs which some people call eyes, however since they lack a brain it is unknown how information from these organs are translated into behavioral changes.

Before you freak out completely, I should point out that most of the time a sting from as sea wasp will only involve the tips of one or two of its tentacles and the pain will quickly warn you to get the hell out of there. Obviously the more venom they inject, the more chance they will kill you and you would need to get stung by more than the tip of a tentacle for it to be lethal. For most of the year sea wasps live in estuine waters and are anchored to the sea floor in what is known as a polyp phase and they only enter their mobile phase (medusa phase) for a few months. The predictable life cycle of the sea wasp makes it easy to avoid them if you want to and a light nylon swimsuit is enough to protect you from a sea wasp sting.

The medusa phase of Chironex fleckeri can be found in tropical waters from Northern Australia to Vietnam and the Philippines.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Cubozoa
Order: Chirodropida
Family: Chirodropoidae
Genus: Chironex
Species: Chironex fleckeri

Image Links:

No comments:

Post a Comment