A teenager has been killed by a box jellyfish after he emerged from the water with several feet of tentacles wrapped around his arms and legs.
The box jellyfish is thought to be the world’s most venomous marine animal and the only species of its kind capable of killing humans. Their tentacles are loaded with pockets of poison which can cause cardiac arrest, paralysis, and death, all within a few minutes.
Mark Angelo Ligmayo, 14, had only been at Eimeo Beach, in Queensland, Australia, for ten minutes on February 26 when he came out of the water entangled in the jellyfish, local news outlet 7NEWS reported. Witnesses told the news outlet he was wrapped in several feet of tentacles.
Jenny Rees, of Surf Lifesaving North Queensland, told 7NEWS “there were lots of tentacles all over his legs” and lifeguards could see “spider web marks on his hands.”
Emergency services arrived at the scene and got the tentacles off the boy, applying about 30 liters of vinegar. Vinegar acts an antidote to a jellyfish sting and can stop more venom from releasing throughout the body. Ligmayo however, was still in critical condition and was rushed to Mackay Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries just hours after the sting, 7NEWS said.
A local resident told the television station, it was “the worst tragedy that could’ve happened” and it will “affect a lot of people” as the beach is popular within the community.
Lifeguards on duty at the beach had checked the waters for jellyfish before Ligmayo entered the water, 7NEWS said, but it must have slipped through.
It is currently jellyfish season in Australia, meaning sightings are more common. Jellyfish are attracted to warmth, meaning shallower waters can be teaming with them during the summer, between November and May.
Eimeo Beach was closed to the public the day after the incident. Lifeguards urged the public to stay out of the water.
Ligmayo and his family had only been living in the area since December after moving there from the Philippines.
Following the incident, local MP Amanda Camm asked whether the government was doing enough to educate people who come to the region on how to avoid these situations, 7NEWS reported.
Australian public health service Health Direct advises people to wear a full lycra wetsuit and waterproof footwear when swimming in waters where jellyfish could be present.
There have been 70 deaths caused by box jellyfish in Australia since the 1880s. A similar incident occurred in March last year when a 17-year-old had been swimming in Bamaga, Cape York, when he was stung by a box jellyfish.
The teenager was in the hospital for a week before his life support was turned off. This was the first death caused by a box jellyfish in 15 years, the BBC reported.