Samui killer ‘may be box jellyfish’

PHUKET: A scientist and a yachtsman today suggested that the seaborne killer responsible for the deaths of two tourists in waters around Koh Pha-ngan may have been a box jellyfish, reputed to be the world’s most venomous marine creature. Two tourists were killed in separate incidents earlier this month at Koh Pha-ngan, near Koh Samui, with one victim’s legs bearing tentacle welts that doctors said would have brought “a painful death.” Box jellyfish, most frequently found in shallow water at the edge of beaches on the Northern Australian coast, are very rare in Thai waters, Supot Chantrapornsyl, Marine Biologist at Phuket’s Marine Biological Center, told the Gazette today. Yachtsman Jock Cromie emailed the Gazette to tell how he had seen one of the jellies just off the northeast corner of Koh Tarutao, Satun Province, although he wrote that the sighting was some years ago. He added that he had been “very surprised” to encounter the jelly. “All information I had read about this area said these jellyfish are not in this area, though there have been occasional reports of them in Malaysia. “This box jellyfish was the only one I’ve seen in Thailand or Malaysia in 13 years of sailing these waters.” Box jellyfish, which have four-sided transparent bodies about the size of a basketball and tentacles up to two meters long, have been blamed for as many as 70 deaths a year in waters around northern Australia. The jelly is not aggressive, feeding on shrimp that drift into its tentacles. Its sting is, however, extremely toxic, affecting both the heart and the nervous system. Stings usually occur when people accidentally collide with the jellies.

Koh Samui NewsPhuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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