Last updated: October 1, 2017 at 21:42 pm
• The box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) of northern Australia and Southeast Asia contains one of the most potent animal venoms known to man. A sting from one of these creatures can induce death in minutes from cessation of breathing, abnormal heart rhythms and profound low blood pressure (shock). The box jellyfish is also known as the sea wasp and the Australian box jellyfish (Source: DAN).
• The Irukandji jellyfish (Carukua barnesi) is a smaller relative of the sea wasp measuring only 0.6 in. (1.5 cm) to 1 in. (2.5 cm) across with four 20-inch (50 cm) tentacles. Irukandji has killed at least 70 people in the past 50 years. Chironex fleckeri has killed at least 100 people in the past century.
Claims that the Irukandji is more dangerous than the box jellyfish are unsubstantiated. All credible references, including the Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit at James Cook University—which studies both species—claim that the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) is not only the most venomous jellyfish, but possibly the most venomous animal in the world. The record article in the Diving Almanac & Book of Records only presents limited statistical data. The number of fatalities is thus not indicative of the number of incidents involving humans and either of these two species, or any of the yet-to-be-named related species discovered in the last decade. The Irukandji may simply be present in larger numbers. Also, the painful effects of coming into contact with Chironex fleckeri are instantaneous, so first aid is applied immediately, which improves the survival rate. Irukandji Syndrome sets in much more slowly and in many cases the sting goes unnoticed. Delayed treatment is thus another factor to consider when comparing the number of fatalities.
Verified by Diving Almanac & Book of Records official
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.