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"Never seen anything like this" Thousands stung by bluebottles in Queensland

Beaches along the heavily populated Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions of Queensland have been closed as colonies of bluebottle jellyfish cause what local media has dubbed an "invasion".

Surf Lifesaving Queensland said a "whopping" 3,595 people were stung by the bluebottle on the beaches of the northern state.

Since the start of December, there have been more than 18,000 stings recorded in Queensland, compared with 6,000 for the same time past year.

Nearly 1000 people were stung by jellyfishes who washed ashore on Sunday afternoon itself and are being treated for anaphylactic shock.

Surf Life Saving duty officer Jeremy Sturges said: "I have never seen anything like this-ever".

Dr Gershwin said the rarity of the phantom jellyfish makes it hard to determine if they are responsible for the more severe stings attributed to bluebottles, but it's not out of the question.

"Those figures, the 22,282, are for about five weeks and that's just one teeny tiny smidgen of Australia, so that is a lot".

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Nearly 1,000 people were hurt in a matter of hours on Sunday afternoon, with 476 bluebottle stings treated on the Gold Coast and 461 on the Sunshine Coast.

Thousands were treated by lifesavers and several people reportedly suffered anaphylactic shock and were treated by paramedics.

Unusually strong northeasterly swell conditions pushed the bluebottles onshore and they are clumped in their thousands along the shoreline.

Bluebottles, also known as Pacific man-of-wars, are responsible for between 10,000 and 30,000 stings along the country's east coast each year, according to the Australian Museum.

Generally, though, large armadas can be found along beaches on the Gold Coast, around Sydney and Perth, and across Tasmania.

AMSAS director Lisa Gershwin said it was "shaping up to be a pretty bad year".

"They get picked up by the wind and blown as long as the wind keeps going or until they hit land and strand on the beaches".