box jellyfish are not new-comers to Southeast Asia, its the reporting that's new
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'Jellyfish rule the world - Scientists warn that jellyfish are taking over the world's oceans. Meet your new overlords.'
Sensationalist press headlines like this from the Global Post in October 2013 would have us believe the world is in imminent danger from these menacing blobs of jelly that pulsate their way through our seas in rapidly expanding numbers.
The polluted, dying seas of northeast China and Japan have given rise to terrifying tales of vast masses of jellies that have overtaken the oxygen-deprived waters. Fishermen often find their nets chock-full of the monstrous Nomura's jellyfish, semi transparent blobs that weigh up to 200 kilogrammes each.
But the problem in Southeast Asia is not one about the life of the oceans, but life and safety of swimmers. In contrast to the huge flabby beasts of Northeast Asia, the species of serious concern in Southeast Asia are near invisible underwater, and often as tiny as your little toe. These seemingly innocuous creatures, the box jellyfish, are often described as the deadliest animal on planet earth.
Many deaths by box jellyfish have occurred right on the beach where the victim was swimming, just two or three minutes after being stung and long before the victim could be rushed to a hospital. In one report of a Swedish woman killed in Langkawi, Malaysia, in January 2010, the husband is quoted as saying his wife died in his arms, still out in the water, just seconds after being wrapped by the jellyfish's deadly tentacles. Masses of its deadly and painful stings apparently sent her into shock, causing her heart to stop.