Over 3,500 people stung by jellyfish on Australian beaches

German tourists Mimi Wiebeling and Pauline Lapetite carry surfboards as they walk into the surf wearing Christmas hats at Sydney's Bondi Beach on Christmas Day in Australia

More than 2500 people have been treated for bluebottle stings on the Gold and Sunshine coasts in Queensland.

Bluebottle jellyfish are around 15cm long and often appear along the Queensland coast in the summer but the number of people stung this year is three times higher than normal.

Across Queensland, but mostly in the southeast, 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to 6831 in the same period previous year.

Lisa Gershwin, who works with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is Australia's national science agency, said that the surge in stings is unlikely to be coincidental.

That number is expected to rise, however, as the coastguard association Surf Life Saving said even more jellyfish are on their way thanks to north easterly winds working in their favour.

22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between 1 December and 7 January across Queensland.

Nearly a thousand people fell foul of marine stingers in a matter of hours on Sunday afternoon, with 476 treated on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast. Parademics and lifesavers treated thousands of people in which many had suffered anaphylactic shock.

Bluebottles-a.k.a. Portuguese Man O' War (Physalia physalis), a.k.a. Indo-Pacific Man O' War (Physalia utriculus), a.k.a. not a true jellyfish-is a marine hydrozoan found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Unusually strong winds pushed the jellyfish colonies close to shore.

"Those colonies also live in these armadas - sort of a population of the colonies - in the middle of the open ocean".

Most of the encounters happened in the popular Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.

"Bluebottles have definitely been fairly active lately, pretty much throughout southeast Queensland", Gershwin said.

"A bluebottle has that sail that sticks up - so the wind grabs the sail and drives them ashore", Dr Gershwin told the BBC.

Surf Life Saving Queensland said people stung should remove stingers, take a very hot shower and apply ice.

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