Sea wasp

Chironex fleckeri

FAMILY

Chirodropidae

TAXONOMY

Chironex fleckeri Southcutt, 1956, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Box jelly.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Reaches up to 11.8 in (30 cm) in diameter, but is difficult to see despite its large size. The as many as 15 tentacles in each corner can reach up to 98.4 ft (30 m) distance from the bell.

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical waters around Australia, from Exmouth, Western Australia, to Bustard Heads, Queensland, as well as around the Indo-west Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Full extent of the distribution has not yet been determined.

HABITAT

Usually shallow waters around creek or mangrove outlets; often reported swimming around pier pilings in search of food.

BEHAVIOR

Swims around pier pilings.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Primary diet items are fishes and prawns.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The search for the polyp of Chironex fleckeri took years before polyps were found attached under some rocks in a northern Australian estuary. Polyps have been found in mangrove swamps and river outlets, but not much is known about how the planulae find their way to these locations. Polyps start to metamorphose into medusae in the Australian spring (September)

and continue until the first large summer rains (January), when they are flushed out into the ocean.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The venom is neurotoxic, cardiotoxic, and dermonecrotic (causes skin tissue to be damaged). Death can occur extremely rapidly while the victim is still in the water or on the beach. Antivenom is available but must be administered quickly. Vinegar can be used to remove undischarged nematocysts. ♦

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment