The Irujandji Jellyfish, also know as the peanut jellyfish, is less than 5mm in diameter but back a venom so toxic it can kill a man.
No creature quite encapsulates the spirit of small but mighty quite like the Irukandji Jellyfish Carukia barnesi, which is not only the smallest jellyfish in existence but also one of the most venomous creatures on earth.
Native to the oceans surrounding Australia and the U.S.A, this peanut sized invertebrate has a bell shaped body with a diameter around 25mm, but its long spindly tentacles can reach up 1m long. The deadly sting of this jellyfish can be delivered by the tips of the tentacles or by the bell and causes a distinct set of symptoms which are collectively known as Irukandji Syndrome.
The sting feels similar to a mosquito bite but the symptoms of Irukandji Syndrome can include headache, backache, nausea, fever, vomiting, muscle spasms, chest and abdominal pain, sweating, anxiety, hypertension, tachycardia and pulmonary oedema. Some patients also feel a sense of “impending doom” due to the release of catecholamines which can be so profound victims have previously asked doctors to kill them just to get it over with. The symptoms usually set in within half an hour of being stung and can last anywhere from 4 – 30 hours, with it usually taking a further two weeks before the unlucky victim feels back to normal.
The sting of the Carukia has a potency 100 times that of a cobra and 1,000 times that of a tarantula, despite being a fraction of the size. There is no direct antidote so all that can be done is to manage the symptoms. It is thought that pouring vinegar over the sting helps to alleviate some of the pain by neutralising the pH of the sting, but this won’t do anything to negate the systemic symptoms caused by the venom.
The exact number of deaths caused by the Irukundji Jelly is unknown as given it’s tiny size victims won’t always report having been stung, and coroners may have missed the jelly as a possibility when stating the cause of death as an underlying heart condition. In November 2016 two French tourists were found having suffered heart attacks whilst snorkelling around the great barrier reef. An Australian Cardiologist stated the Irukundji Jellyfish as the probably suspect due to the unlikelihood of two holiday makers dying in the same patch of ocean minutes apart from each other having previously reported no symptoms.
In short; everything in Australia, no matter how small, will kill you.
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