Be careful handling this critter from Northern Australia!
Chironex fleckeri grows to about the size of a human head,
and has tentacles up to three meters long.
A big sting from this guy can easily kill a human, with death
occurring in as little as three minutes. There have been roughly
100 deaths due to Chironex stings during the past 100
years in northern Australia. However, many people have been
stung and not been killed. It is likely that these cubozoans
swim away when they come into contact with something as large
as a human. According to Phil Alderslade, contact with six to
eight meters of tentacle
is necessary to deliver enough venom to kill a person. The
bell of Chironex fleckeri
does not have nematocysts.
Fortunately, these box jellies are in the business of catching
and eating fish and crustaceans.|
Chironex individuals do not inhabit reef environments. Instead, the only polyps that have ever been observed in nature were living attached to the undersides of stones in an estuary of a river in northern Australia. The polyps metamorphose into juvenile medusae beginning in the austral spring (September) and continuing until the first large summer rains (usually in January). Medusae are then flushed out into the near shore waters.
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Sources:Hamner, W. M., Jones, M. S., and P. P. Hamner. 1995. Swimming, feeding, circulation and vision in the Australian box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri (Cnidaria,:Cubozoa). Marine and Freshwater Research 46 (7): 985-990.
Hamner, William, M. 1994. Australia's box jellyfish, a killer down under. National Geographic. August 1994.
Hartwick, R. F. 1991. Distributional ecology and behaviour of the early life stages of the box-jellyfish Chironex fleckeri. Hydrobiologia 216/217, 181-188.
Kinsey, Barbara. 1985. Barnes on box jellyfish. published by James Cook University of North Queensland.
Kinsey, Barbara. 1988. More Barnes on box jellyfish. published by James Cook University of North Queensland.