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Lifesavers Warn Of Bluebottle Swarm As Thousands Stung On Beaches

Beachgoers on Australia's east coast are being warned to stay alert for bluebottles after dozens of people were stung on Saturday morning.

It follows a string of similar warnings from lifesavers over the past few weeks, as Aussies hit the beaches during record summer temperatures .

Surf Lifesaving Queensland was forced to close a number of beaches on December 30 after recording more than 1600 bluebottle stinger treatments in a single day.

An alarming number of people in the state's tropical region have also been treated for irukandji jellyfish stings in the last week.

Last week, two teenagers were airlifted to hospital after being stung by the deadly jellyfish while swimming off Queensland's Fraser Island.

At least four others were airlifted from the island for separate stinger incidents in the same week.

READ MORE: Two Teenagers Hospitalised After Irukandji Jellyfish Stings

On Friday a man believed to be in his 20s was also transported to Hervey Bay hospital after a suspected irukanji sting.

The jellyfish are found in tropical waters and measure only two centimetres in diameter, making them difficult for swimmers to notice in the water.

Symptoms can appear between five to 45 minutes after the initial sting and can include severe backache or headache; shooting pains in the muscles, chest and abdomen; nausea; anxiety; restlessness; vomiting; and breathing difficulties.

Fatalities are extremely rare, but have occurred.

Image: AAP

The spate of stinger incidents prompted a warning from Queensland Ambulance Service last week for beachgoers to be on bluebottle watch over the summer.

The ABC reported 13,243 bluebottle stings have been treated by lifesavers and lifeguards across Queensland since December 28.

"If you're stung by a non-tropical jellyfish, try and pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with sea-water to remove invisible stinging cells, place the affected area in warm water, and if needed, apply ice packs if warm water doesn't work," QAS said.

"Avoid using vinegar if it's clearly a bluebottle sting as it can exacerbate the pain. If it's a severe case then call Triple Zero (000)."

This weekend a number of beaches in the state's north have been closed due to the removal of stinger nets.

Surf Lifesaving Queensland said anyone who has been stung by a bluebottle should see a lifesaver or lifeguard to be treated with hot water or ice.

It comes on the same weekend Surf Lifesaving Australia launched its 'draw a line in the sand' campaign, pleading with beachgoers to think about their safety around the water.

Lifesaving authorities are on edge as the drowning toll continues to climb around the country.

READ MORE: Lifeguards 'Spooked' By Drownings Leading Into Dangerous Christmas Heatwave

Surf Life Saving Australia said 23 people have drowned in coastal related death just 34 days into summer.

Last year 110 people lost their lives on the Australian coast due to drowning, nearly half of those were during the three months of summer.

SLSA said its the highest number of drowning deaths in the 14 years since records began.

“We are asking all beachgoers to just take a couple of minutes to understand where they are going, what to do if something goes wrong and have a plan in place they will hopefully ensure they won’t be placing themselves or others at risk.” CEO Adam Weir said in a statement.

READ MORE: A Staggering 30 Drownings Have Been Recorded In 26 Days

Beaches have been packed across the country as thousands flocked to cool off during a record heatwave across the southern states late last year.

This weekend is also expected to see high temperatures across much of the eastern and western coast.

Featured Image: Facebook (Queensland Surf Lifesaving)/Instagram (Queensland Ambulance Service)

contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au