Box Jellyfish: a killer with grace

//Box Jellyfish: a killer with grace

The Chart of Danger in Australia

Killers can come in a small size.

I found this chart in a local newspaper, the Townsville Bulletin. The interesting part is that the Honey Bee trails a second place to the deadly Box Jellyfish, aka Chironex Fleckeri. The ratings given on the chart take in account, likelihood of encounter and the result of the encounter. Following the 10/10 rating for the Box Jellyfish, and 9/10 rating for the Honey Bee, is the tiny Irukandji with a rating of 8/10.  We do not think of Honey Bees as a killer animal or insect, but recognise that some of us are allergic to its sting, and for some the sting from a bee can be fatal.  The rating of 9/10 has been given because bees are so abundant and common. (although some debate has been brewing regarding the disappearance of bee-species)

Irukandji are very difficult to detect, because of their size, only about 12mm, excluding tentacles. They do hug the intertidal zone of the tropical North at certain times of year and can bestowe a prolonged journey of excruciating pain upon its victims.

Some killers are not so small…

Encounters with sharks, or saltwater crocodiles are not likely, unless you enter their habitat. I guess, you could say the same for Box-Jellyfish and Irukandji. If you have a run-in with a saltwater crocodile, of reasonable size, say two and half metres, chances are you may come off second best. An encounter with a four-metre croc will see you dead and eaten!  The size difference between a two-metre crocodile and a four-metre specimen is exponential, in weight and girth.

In the waters between Townsville and Magnetic Island,  Tiger Sharks are a common feature of the marine environment. This area is a breeding ground for them. Bull Sharks are also found in these waters, and are one of the most aggressive and deadly sharks. Although not encountered frequently, you don’t really want to come face to face. Chances for survival may not be so high.

The Slitheren Killers…and the creeper ones!

Spiders and snakes…yep, we have plenty of them in Australia. And of course our natural environment provides for excellent living conditions for some of the world’s most venomous snakes. Suffice it to say, that there are many of us who have walked into a kitchen or laundry and found a big, black hairy spider sitting on a cold floor-tile waiting to see you jump out of your skin. And thankfully, your bare feet didn’t step on them.

The star of the show…

She’s graceful, she’s quiet, she’s beautiful as she glides along the shores of the Australian Tropical North. She doesn’t like big open waters or waves, preferring to move into the in-shore, intertidal zone as the tide rises, hunting for prawns and small fish. She likes the estuaries, river-mouths and creeks. So BEWARE, next time you’re at the beach, and decide to wade the warm tropical waters casting your bait, while knee-deep. It’s not just the Stonefish you need to worry about. Chironex Fleckeri glides with grace searching for her next meal…