The Australian Government is funding urgent research to find out more about how and why we find the tiny, deadly Irukandji jellyfish along parts of the Great Barrier Reef coastline.
“The research aims to produce early warning and detection systems for forecasting Irukandji occurrences a day or more in advance,” Minister Hunt said.
“These tiny jellyfish pose a threat to the health and safety of tourists visiting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the local communities of Far North Queensland.
“The sting from these jellyfish is not only painful, but can cause serious injury and in some cases can be fatal.”
“Venomous jellyfish, such as Irukandji, are responsible for the hospitalisation of hundreds of people annually and cost the tourism industry millions of dollars of lost revenue following major outbreaks,” Mr Entsch said.
The National Environmental Science Programme’s Tropical Water Quality Hub, in collaboration with government, industry, Indigenous groups and marine experts, has already begun to identify practical ways to tackle this problem.
The Hub, lead by Professor Damien Burrows has developed a research framework that is guiding ongoing Australian Government investment.
A new research project will develop a sophisticated prediction system to determine how Irukandji – also known as ‘stingers’ – respond to changing water quality and how to predict their presence based on environmental conditions.
“This approach will allow locals and visitors to take precautions, much like current warnings for other environmental hazards such as fire, cyclones and floods,” Mr Entsch said.
“It is important that we find a way to predict the occurrence of Irukandji in our tropical waters so that actions can be taken to minimise the risk to the community and our valuable tourism industry.”
The Tropical Water Quality Hub is funded with $31.98 million from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme, which focuses on collaborative, practical and applied research that informs on-ground action.
The National Environmental Science Programme connects scientists and communities to deliver research that will provide practical solutions.
More information about the National Environmental Science Programme can be found online at www.environment.gov.au/nesp