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Australian Environmental Issues

A true-blue battler

Box jellyfish
How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

So you wrestle crocs...

Unfairly judged in killing off the thylacine?

The wise little gnomes of Australia

Victors of the great Emu war

Shaping everything from how Australians speak to how they salute

Funnel Web spider
Yyou'll never leave your ugg boots outside

Most herbivores don't grow a spine until they are the size of an elephant. Not so the roo.

Kill less people than cows

Shark attack Australia
How to ensure you don't go by the name of Bob

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Keg of muscle

The mainland's largest marsupial carnevore

Mythical creatures
Yowies and dropbears; some say they are myths but those who are not afraid to talk have shared their stories






Box Jellyfish

How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

In the warmer months between October and May, the threat of Box Jellyfish means that the beaches of Northern Australia are best enjoyed European style. Specifically, people head down to the beach, remove clothes to take their Instagram pics and then just lay on the sand all day. While this is a relative easy thing to for Europeans to do because most of their seas lack waves or the ocean is freezing, staying out of the water in Australia is a bit like chaperoning the local gang leader's beautiful daughter when she is coming onto you.

For those who are desperate to indulge in aquatic pursuits, a wetsuit or pantyhose provides a fair bit of protections against stings. Unfortunately, getting dressed in a wetsuit or pantyhose to have a swim is a bit like using a condom when making intimate love. Yes, the main purpose can still be achieved, but the whole sensory experience is reduced. Furthermore, it doesn't provide complete protection anyway. If you duck dive, there is a risk of getting a face full of stingers and then resurfacing with a most unglamorous expression. At the very least, it is not an Instagram worthy pic. As difficult as it may be, marine celibacy is really the only logical option.

Those still struggling with issues of restraint really only need consider the threat they are dealing with when their resolve wavers. The Box jellyfish is considered the world's most venomous marine creature as it has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined. They can be up to 20cm long and have up to 15 tentacles of each corner that reach almost 3 meters in length. On each tentacle, there can be 5,000 stinging cells. To make matters worse, they are virtually invisible in the water.

If stung, the pain is so excruciating that the victim goes into shock and if alone, usually drowns before reaching the shore. If the victim makes it to shore, cardiac arrest is likely and deaths have occurred within 5 minutes of envenomation.

Immediate treatment usually comes in the form of vinegar to inactivate the stinging cells. The vinegar in a bottle of French wine may do the trick in desperate circumstances, but the alcohol within it may cause some problems and the wine should be avoided for that reason.  

The effects of urine seem to be a topic of contention. Scientists generally advise that applying urine has no benefit aside from possibly creating a funny story to tell once the pain has gone away. The general fear seems to be urine could alter the salt balance to cause the stinging cells to start firing again. For example, if the sting is washed with water or with the urine of someone who has been drinking a lot of beer, the concentration of salts in the stingers is higher than on the outside of the stingers, and this will cause them to start firing once more. On the other hand, if someone is a bit dehydrated and their urine is concentrated with salts, the opposite may occur and the firing will stop. In short, if you must get someone to pee on you, best ask someone who hasn't been drinking and whose urine looks gold.

The one consolation is that the Jellyfish stay close to the coast so snorkelling around the reefs is safe. Admittedly, Jellyfish could be pulled out to the reef by the tide; however, they are quite strong swimmers, have eyes and even the beginnings of a brain, and this allows them to stay where they want to. It's just a shame that they happen to like the same types of coastlines that humans do.


Cairns, the gateway to North Queensland, was built on a most unaesthetic mud flat. Perhaps this is because the pioneers had designs on being a gatweay city and therefore they wanted to ensure that people who visited would go somwehere else. Perhaps it was because, with the threat of Box jellyfish, building on a pristine beach would make it too tempting to go in the water, or too painful not to.


Invasive ferals


Carp and Trout
A tale of two ferals

New hope for Cane Toads
The many unknown predators of the toad

A fence almost 2,000 km long to keep rabbits out of WA? Sounds like a great idea! If it doesn't work, we'll build another one!

The Willow
How a change in its status from asset to weed led to fish kills with blackwater and blue-green algae outbreaks

To bait dingos?
Should the health of the ecosystem be considered or just the kennel club registration?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Environmental values

Environmental problems
How money and ideology shapes environmental "science."

Australia's Stockholm Syndrome with gum trees.

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Climate change in Australia
Australia was once covered in rainforest. Could it be again?

The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?




Australian environmental science is defined by an ideology that is not unlike a prison warden. There, the scientists are not seeing themselves as part of the ecosystem, but as masters over it; protecting the rights of the species that they say have rights and killing those that they say do not…but inevitably killing both.

"It was always seen as desirable to remove or cull the introduced species. We also need to ask whether it was possible to do so, how it should be done, whether it could have unintended consequences and what it would cost? I don't think anyone really asked those questions." Physicist John Reid - 2012