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Man in intensive care after diving face-first into jellyfish

December 4, 2009 |  8:59 am

A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish lies next to match sticks for size comparison.

An Australian man has ended up in intensive care after diving face-first into jellyfish.

The unidentified 29-year-old was on a yacht near South Mole Island, off the coast of Queensland. He dove into the water, where he was immediately stung in the face by potentially lethal Irukandji jellyfish.

He was taken back to the island and given first aid until a rescue helicopter arrived to transport him to a nearby hospital.

RACQ Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service spokeswoman Leonie Hansen told the Brisbane Times that the man was shivering and had gone into shock when paramedics landed.

"It was the luck of the draw, really. He had a full stinger suit on, so only his face, his hands and his feet were exposed. Unfortunately, when you dive in, there is always that risk you will be stung."

A stinger suit is a lightweight version of a wetsuit that covers everything but the face, feet and hands and helps protect against venomous jellyfish that are common in northern Australia's waters from November through May.

Irukandji are so minuscule they can pass through nets meant to keep jellyfish away from popular swimming areas. Their stings cause severe abdominal, limb and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating and agitation.

"Unlike the box jellyfish, normally with Irukandjis, they are only fatal if the person has a preexisting medical condition, like a bad heart," added Hansen.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A tiny but fully grown deadly Irukandji jellyfish lies next to matchsticks for size comparison. Credit: Brian Cassey / Associated Press

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