Irukandji

Carukia barnesi

FAMILY

Carybdeidae

TAXONOMY

Carukia barnesi Southcutt, 1967, Cairns, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Box jelly.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The bell is transparent, reaching to 0.8 in (20 mm) in diameter and 1 in (25 mm) in depth; each of the four tentacles may extend to 25.6 in (650 mm).

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical Australian waters from central Queensland (Agnes Water) to Broome, Western Australia.

HABITAT

Occurs in deeper waters of the reef, although often swept inshore by currents.

BEHAVIOR

Nothing is known.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Nothing is known.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nothing is known about the life cycle. The only time juveniles were collected was in 1997, when four small jellies were collected 3.1 mi (5 km) north of Mackay Harbor in Queensland. This led researchers to postulate that the early part of the life cycle may be in creeks or rivers as in C. fleckeri.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Stingings were named the Irukandji syndrome (after a local aboriginal tribe) as early as 1943, but the species was not collected and identified until 1964 to 1966. The venom is extremely potent, and may be responsible for some fatalities. Research in 2002 focused on the use of magnesium infusions to counter the toxic sting. ♦

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