Bareboating in stinger season | Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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Bareboating in the Whitsundays stinger season

Stinger season in the Whitsundays is not a reason to stay out of the water. By being aware and taking the right precautions you can enjoy a safe adventure exploring the islands.

Stinger season in the Whitsundays runs from late October to May.

The warm tropical waters in the Whitsundays and around the Great Barrier Reef are the right conditions for stingers. However, being stung by a jellyfish is an infrequent occurrence.

We have two species of stingers that create the primary concern for visitors - the Box Jellyfish and the much smaller and almost impossible to see Irukandji.

Should stinger season dissuade you from booking a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays? Absolutely not! With the proper awareness and preventative measures, you will have a safe and enjoyable time in Whitsunday waters.

stinger suits witsundays

What are my chances of being stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the Whitsundays?

The chances of being stung by a jellyfish in the Whitsundays is rare.

According to the Whitsundays Regional Council, out of the millions of "people days" each year in the Great Barrier Reef waters, in a bad year, only around 100 Irukandji stings occur in Queensland that require medical treatment.

It's important not to be complacent. No matter how rare being stung is, sting prevention is still necessary.

Download this brochure from the Whitsunday Regional council with FAQs on Marine Stingers

Three ways you can enjoy bareboating in the Whitsundays' stinger season

Wear stinger suits

It may not look like the height of fashion, but stinger suits serve a dual purpose. They protect from stinger encounters whilst at the same time preventing sunburn.

At Whitsunday Rent a Yacht, we suggest that guests wear a stinger suit all year round.

Stingers have been sighted outside of the season (either side of summer). We strongly advise that guests wear stinger suits close to summer, regardless of if it's stinger season or not.

Stinger suits cover the areas where jellyfish stings most commonly occur. We suggest that suits should be worn wading along the shoreline. Most box jellyfish stings occur when wading.

Wearing a stinger suit is the most reliable form of sun protection, particularly if you plan on snorkelling and exploring the water for extended periods.

You can hire a stinger suit through us when you make your bareboat booking. Suits cost $5 per person per booked night. We recommend ordering in advance as part of the booking process.

During the summer months, stinger suits are head to toe lycra. They are easy to move in and barely noticeable once you're in the water.

During winter, suits are 1mm full-length wetsuits. While the water temperatures are not freezing, the winter suit does provide an extra layer of warmth.

Be aware of the conditions

Some weather conditions increase the chances of being stung.

High-risk conditions include calm water, especially in sheltered bays, sandy beaches in low wave action, river-mouths, and of course, a heightened water temperature.

Be aware of high-risk conditions for Irukandji; Sustained NE winds, flat or calm weather, sea lice felt in the water and/or plankton present in the water.

Enter the water slowly. Box Jellyfish will often swim away if given the time and opportunity to do so.

Always carry vinegar

Reactions to jellyfish stings can range from severe stings to cardiac arrest. If in doubt, treat a sting as the more dangerous Irukandji until given professional advice.

Vinegar is supplied on all of our boats for treating box jellyfish stings.

Stinger Season Whitsundays

The two marine stingers to look out for in the Whitsundays

There are two types of stingers to be aware of when swimming in the Whitsundays, Irukandji and Box Jellyfish. Each has a different type of sting.

Irukandji are only the size of your little fingernail, but they can cause a minor sting followed 5 – 40 minutes later by severe pain and potentially life-threatening effects on the heart.

Box jJellyfish are much larger than the Irukandji. They cause immediate pain and whip-like marks on the skin. You will know a Box Jellyfish sting straight away, and the patient will be screaming in pain. Again, these stings can cause cardiac arrest.

The protocol for a jellyfish sting is:

  1. Have someone call our head office via the radio (or ring 000 if in phone range)
  2. Look for any signs of needing to perform CPR
  3. Treat the area immediately by washing the sting with vinegar for at least 30 seconds (Vinegar inactivates the stinging cells, preventing them from injecting more venom.)
  4. Remove any tentacles with a glove (provided in the first aid kit)
  5. Be prepared to seek medical aid and transport to the hospital if needed. Hamilton Island is the closest hub to the Islands, or we will organise transport for you.

Do not rub the area. Do not re-enter the water.

This information is not to alarm you, to prevent any serious injury ensuring everyone is safe and enjoys their experience sailing in the Whitsundays.

Remember, being stung by a jellyfish is a rare occurrence, made even rarer with the right awareness.

If you have any concerns, please chat with our staff to make sure you are informed and feel safe. Stinger season isn't a reason to not go bareboating. By being mindful and wearing a stinger suit, you can enjoy all of the fantastic waterbased activities on offer in the Whitsundays