The sting of this tiny jellyfish is so horrific, you might just ask your doctor to kill you.
But that didn’t stop Jeremy Wade of the popular show River Monsters from trying to catch one by hand. Watch:
Irukandji jellyfish is a blanket term for several of the most venomous box jellyfish species on the planet. Their venom is 100 times more potent than that of a cobra, and you’ll definitely feel it.
Initially, the sting is relatively mild – like a mosquito bite. But after about 30 minutes, you’ll want to make your way to the nearest hospital so you can be heavily medicated for the next 12 hellacious hours.
The minuscule amount of venom released from the jelly’s stingers induces excruciating muscle cramps in the limbs, severe back pain, horrendous headaches, relentless nausea and vomiting, a burning sensation in the skin, and cardiac complications, among other symptoms — collectively known as Irukandji syndrome. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, it also triggers a dreadful feeling of anxiety and a sense of impending doom.
Australian biologist Lisa Gershwin told ABC radio, “Patients believe they’re going to die and they’re so certain of it that they’ll actually beg their doctors to kill them just to get it over with.”
She went on, “It gives you incredible lower back pain that you would think of as similar to an electric drill drilling into your back. It gives you relentless nausea and vomiting. How does vomiting every minute to two minutes for up to 12 hours sound? Incredible. It gives waves of full body cramps, profuse sweating … the nurses have to wring out the bed sheets every 15 minutes. It gives you very great difficulty in breathing where you just feel like you can’t catch your breath. It gives you this weird muscular restlessness so you can’t stop moving but every time you move it hurts.”
Thankfully, with medical intervention, it’s rare for sting victims to actually die. You’ll just feel like you want to.
For a creature capable of inflicting such excruciating pain, the Irukandji jellyfish is surprisingly tiny, with bells measuring an average of only one cubic centimeter. Their four tentacles, however, can range from several centimeters to 1 meter (3 feet). They’re also completely transparent, making them hard for beachgoers to spot.
Don’t worry, though. These guys are found mainly in the warm northern wasters of Australia, so unless you’re swimming there, you’re safe.
Watch what happens when two people get stung by an Irukandji jellyfish: