Beachgoer shocked by 'massive' bluebottles washed up on Aussie coast

The common yet unwelcome visitors were some of the largest bluebottles seen by locals on the Queensland coast.

Aussies regularly find bluebottles washed up on the beach but a Queensland woman was shocked by the size of the 'massive' stingers she found during her coastal walk this week.

Walking her dog along Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast she said she spotted several bluebottles bigger than her hand and felt compelled to share.

"I've never seen any this big before... these photos really don't capture the size of one of them," she wrote online alongside images of the distinctive marine animals.

A bluebottle size can be seen being compared to the beachgoer's hand (left) and a picture of another bluebottle can be seen on the beach with a dog in the background (right).
The beachgoer said the 'massive' bluebottles were 'bigger than my hand' at Coolum Beach on Wednesday. Source: Facebook

The woman said she had to be careful around the bluebottles with her dog, with stings known to inflict immediate pain on curious pets.

Locals report seeing 'giant' bluebottles on Queensland coast

Another local said he had also noticed the stingers were the "biggest I've ever seen" in the area, sharing an image of a similarly large bluebottle at Sunrise Beach in Noosa. However, a marine expert told Yahoo News Australia the bluebottles in question were nothing out of the ordinary.

"In a population you're going to have big ones and some small ones and these are just on the bigger end," Griffith University's Marine Ecologist, Professor Kylie Pitt, said.

Left, a bluebottle can be seen on the beach. Right, Professor Kylie Pitt can be seen in a lab coat.
Professor Kylie Pitt (right) and a team of marine experts hope to develop a 'forecasting system' to track bluebottle movement along the eastern coast. Source: Facebook and Moreton Bay Foundation

Up to 30,000 bluebottle stings are reported every year, with the majority coming from eastern Australia.

"They can occur throughout the year but they are definitely more abundant in summer," Professor Pitt said, explaining the higher number of people in the water during summer is probably linked to more stings being reported.

Much like pets, humans who are stung by bluebottles often experience intense pain, as well as whip-like lines and sores. One in six Aussies have been stung by a marine stinger, according to the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Experts developing bluebottle 'forecasting system'

Despite being a common and often unwelcome visitor to Aussie beaches, little is known about bluebottles and what brings them to the coast, other than the fact they are totally at the wind's mercy.

A group of marine experts from Griffith University and UNSW, in partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia, have commenced a project called 'Bluebottle Watch' which hopes to grasp a deeper understanding of the stingers. The project aims to help beachgoers make "informed decisions" on what beach to go to on a particular day.

"It will be a little bit like a weather forecast but a bluebottle forecast," Professor Pitt said. "We are trying to understand where and when they occur and try to develop a forecasting system, particularly focusing on Sydney beaches."

Beachgoers are being encouraged to report any bluebottle sightings to help the team collect data on different stingers along the coast. If you see a bluebottle on the beach, take a photo and upload it to iNaturalist platform.

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