We spoke with jellyfish expert Lisa-Anne Gershwin from the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service, who told us how they got here and why!
“Bluebottles live in massive colonies way out at sea,” says Lisa. “Nobody has ever counted, but I’d say there are ‘squillions’ living together in flotillas or ‘super-populations’.”
Turns out, bluebottles come in left and right ‘handed’ forms. That is, their ‘sails’ face different directions.
“When the on-shore winds blow, those who have ‘sails’ in the right direction tack with the wind until either the wind peters out or they hit land.”
So all that on-shore wind has covered our beaches in these fascinating little creatures.
Contrary to popular opinion, you CAN be stung by a bluebottle that’s dried out on the beach. “Kids of all ages love to pop them,” Lisa says, “but I’m suggesting you stay right away. They have tiny little harpoons in tiny little capsules all over them, like little land mines, which trigger when they hit moisture, splattering you with their microscopic stinging cells. They don’t even have to be attached to the animal. For example if you have old bluebottle on a fishing net you haven’t used for months, then throw it over your sweaty shoulder, that moisture will trigger the ‘harpoons’ and it will sting you.”
And if you are unlucky enough to be stung, she says it’s best to wash yourself in seawater to remove as many stinging cells as you can, then use hot water or ice until the pain subsides.
If you’re really curious and love sea creatures, Lisa says keep your eyes open for Sea Lizards. These fascinating creatures feed on bluebottles, then take the un-fired stinging cells and store them away in their ‘fingers’ so they can use them for their own defence.
And she says with lots of bluebottles also comes lots of ‘Bubble Snails’. These little guys also eat the stinging tentacles of bluebottles, floating around on a nest of bubbles which also contains their babies!
Gorgeous Bluebottle photos thanks to @julia.a.stj on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/julia.a.stj/