By Tui Benjamin
A shocked beachgoer who posed with thousands of alien-like blue jellyfish washed ashore in Australia feared he would DIE if he fell into them.
Brett Wallensky discovered the wriggling mass of venomous Bluebottles – known outside Australia as Portuguese Man o’War – at Barlings Beach in New South Wales on Friday.
The 45-year-old, who described the sight as “the stuff of nightmares”, captured incredible footage of the brightly-coloured sea creatures writhing in a rock pool.
Motor mechanic Brett, from Canberra, said: “We went for a morning beach walk and they were all just blowing into the bay and floating underwater.
“There must have been thousands of them beached and they were all alive and wriggling.
“It was the stuff nightmares are made of. It was just horrible to look at them wriggling around and trying to sting you.
“If you fell in there and got that many stings all over you I can’t imagine you would survive.
“When I shared the picture with friends they said ‘I hope Claudia wasn’t in there!’
“The colour of them was just amazing, it is so bright – almost alien.
“That is the only time in my life I have seen them in these quantities, I’ve never seen that many together before.
“Every wave that splashed into the rocks more washed up so I was cautious posing for the photos as I didn’t want to get a big splash of them over me.”
Brett and partner Claudia have been travelling around Australia in their campervan for eight years and were staying in a caravan park in Barlings Beach for two days.
The couple describe themselves as ‘travelling nomads’ and make a living through Brett’s motor mechanic skills and by house and pet-sitting.
They spotted the jellyfish on Friday morning while walking along the beach having already spotted some in the water while kayaking with humpback whales earlier the same day.
Bluebottles vary in size with the organism’s floating sac normally around 15cm, while its stinging tentacles can stretch up to one metre long.
Their sting injects potent venom which causes an immediate painful red mark which can blister and cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
In rare cases bluebottle stings can be fatal as they can mimic the symptoms of life-threatening anaphylaxis such as chest tightness and difficulty breathing.
The collective noun for a group of jellyfish is an armada.
Brett, who alerted the public to the huge cluster of bluebottles by sending pictures to local paper the Bay Post, said: “I have been stung by bluebottles several times as a young boy – it does hurt very much, they leave a horrible sting.
“Apparently they are sitting just off the continental shelf in their thousands just waiting to get blown into shore.
“It would be interesting to know if there is a scientific explanation – is it due to climate change or is there some other reason why they are becoming more prolific?
“It definitely put me off swimming in that area – it would have been crazy to go swimming when they are there in those numbers.
“Some of their tentacles can stretch a metre long, and every wave you wouldn’t know if there was one in there. When they are dry if you step on them they pop loudly.”