Box Jellyfish: in the Oct-May jelly season, wear a Lycra ‘stinger suit’ or wetsuit and keep your eyes peeled to avoid this deadly Mr Blobby. Usually found in deeper water off Australia Beaches so a problem mostly for snorkellers and divers.
They appear to spawn around the Barrier Reef and like warm, no-surf waters so north of Rockhampton are danger zones.
Irukandji Jellyfish: the tiny terror (peanut sized) that prefers deep water but can be swept through (anti) stinger nets by currents.
Blue-ringed octopus: small, cute and occasionally fatal, even when it’s washed up on the beach or frolicking in a rock pool. You wouldn’t be so dumb as to play with the little chap, but the kids would.
Salt water crocodiles: far more dangerous than sharks, ‘salties’ hang out where rivers meet the sea, so however hot and sticky you are be extremely cautious about swimming in rivers or in/around estuary beaches, especially if no one else is there or there are warning signs. Freshwater crocs in Australia are not a problem, and since they are eaten by salties too, if they are around then salties probably aren’t.
Quite Nasty Beasts
Cone shells: often host a snail with a noxious defensive needle that has killed weak and unwary shell collectors.
Stonefish: almost invisible tucked under sand, their poisonous spines are very potent and may mean a hospital trip. Hot water will disperse the toxins. Sand shoes or reef sandals will usually prevent penetration.
Sharks: overrated in the danger stakes due to bad PR, attacks are usually a case of mistaken identity, when a shark – confused by waves – thinks a surfer is a seal or a swimmer is a skinny and slow tuna fish. You have more chance of being killed by a falling coconut.
Don’t be intimidated in spite of all the above, Aussies aren’t! If you keep your eyes open and take reasonable precautions you’ll have a great time.