Bluebottles are a common non-tropical stinger around Australia’s coast. If you visit the Gold Coast you have a very real chance of encountering one of the stinging little suckers.
They have a small blue air-filled sac and usually one single tentacle that can be more than a metre long making it very easy for them to tangle around limbs, causing a sting.
Bluebottles stings can vary from a minor inconvenience to a searing pain depending on the individual. Either way there are ways to treat a sting that work, and some urban myths that don’t.
Bluebottle Sting Treatment
Prevention is always better than cure. If you know there are many Bluebottles about, it might be a good idea to stay out the water, however they can surprise you too.
If you’re unfortunate enough to get stung, Surf Life Saving Australia has the following advice:
What DOES work:
- Wash off any remaining tentacles with seawater, or pick off with your fingers (they can’t usually sting through thetough skin on your fingers!)
- Immerse the patient’s sting in hot water (no hotter than can be easily tolerated)
- If local pain is not relieved or immersion facilities are not available, the application of cold packs or wrapped ice is also effective.
What DOESN’T work:
- Rubbing sand over the sting – it just gives you a rash around the sting
- Pouring soft drinks over the sting – just makes it sticky
- Pouring vinegar over the skin – is vitally important for TROPICAL marine stings, but not for non-tropical stings
- Urinating over the sting – it’s just gross, and doesn’t work anyway!
Bluebottle Fun Facts
- Bluebottles are a non-tropical stinger
- They’re hermaphrodites!
- The most common Bluebottle found in Australia is the Physalia utriculus
- Although it looks like one creature, it is actually a colony made up of tiny animals called ‘zooids’ that work together, but can not survive without each other.
– The Float: A gas-filled polyp that keeps the Bluebottle afloat
– The Tentacles (Dactylozooids): Hang below the water’s surface and help detect prey
– The Mouths – yes more than one! (Gastrozooids): Consume the food that the tentacles drag up
– The Reproductive Structures (Gonozooids): This part of the colony sheds eggs and sperm into the water
- Bluebottles feed mostly on larval fish and small crustaceans