Arrival of Summer in 2016 coincided with the worst influx of Bluebottles (Physalia physalis aka Portugese Man-O-War) to Port Port Bay. First news to Baykeeper was on November 26 with a report of big numbers around Chinaman’s Hat.
They’d been recorded in the south of the Bay before, so perhaps this would no worse than in 2010; but over the following week news of sightings in the Bay just kept coming. Each one progressively further into the Bay: Chelsea, Beaumaris, Sandringham, St Kilda, Altona and Williamstown. They were also reported on Victorian coasts to the east and west of Port Phillip Bay.
The high likelihood of future swarms highlights the need to provide clear and accurate advice to beach-goers. What to do if you do get stung? How dangerous are they? Bluebottles are reputed to be potentially fatal to humans and thousands of Australians have suffered the intense pain of their sting. Although very few deaths have occurred extreme caution is warranted. People who are susceptible to allergic reactions are particularly at risk. Beach-goers need to understand the risk and make their own decision to swim or not. Good advice is available from Marine Stingers Advisory Service In the meantime, even if you find a Bluebottle dead on the beach, be aware that they can still sting!