Scientists have studied the venom of Chironex fleckeri for decades trying to figure out its chemical structure and main components to determine why it is so deadly. After years of research, no definite chemical structure has been discovered. However, through these studies, much knowledge has come to our attention about this venom and treating patients that have encountered it. Two toxins have been completely identified on the Chironex fleckeri venom. These toxins are CfTX-1 and CfTX-2. These proteins are only found in Cnidarians and are particular in the envenoming process of all jellyfish. Studies have also shown that a high intracapsular pressure of the nematocyst is what causes such a rapid fire of these deadly structures.


When first stung, a victim will experience excruciating pain, impaired consciousness, bright red inflammation where the tentacles made contact with the skin, and cardiac dysfunction. When, and if, a victim is pulled from the water, there are many things that may be required to keep them alive. The first step to take douse the affected area with domestic vinegar. This stops anymore nematocysts from firing more venom into the victim. After this, the tentacles can now be removed from the victim and they must be immediately taken to the nearest hospital. Many times the victim will need CPR to keep them alive. Mechanisms of the venom are not very well understood, but a combination of respiratory failure, paralysis of cardiac muscles, and atrium-ventricle disturbances are found to be the major causes of death in victims. If a victim does survive, it's most likely due to the use of anti-venom by doctors. This substance has been available since 1970 and is composed of purified sheep immunoglobulin. Even though it is not used in all cases, this anti-venom has saved the lives of many victims of Chironex fleckeri.


How to Protect Yourself:

There are many safety precautions that can be taken when visiting the dangerous, northern coast of Australia. One of these include swimming at a beach where a jellyfish net is in place. Even though it cannot keep all dangerous animals away from people swimming, it can keep out this deadly box jellyfish. These nets are seen all around beaches in Australia (shown left) and keep out unwanted guests like Chironex fleckeri. If you are not planning on staying inside these net or want to go scuba diving or surfing, some full body wet suits can protect you from the harmful sting of this box jellyfish as well (demonstrated by the picture below).


Other Interesting Facts:

Did you know that urinating on a jellyfish sting does not help the victim?

Did you know that there is enough venom is one box jellyfish to kill 60 people?

Did you know that an individual of this species is only alive for 9-10 months?

Did you know that tracking devices have shown that box jellyfish 'rest' on the sea floor at night unless disturbed by predators or prey?

Did you know that the more tentacles a box jellyfish has, the older it is?

Did you know that Loxosceles reclusa is one of the most venomous spiders on the planet?

Did you know that Conus marmoreus is also a deadly creature in the ocean?

Did you know some beaches post jellyfish signs to caution swimmers about a potential risk?



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