Be Careful in the Marine Environment
  |  First Published: February 2006

The risks involved in enjoying the marine environment in Queensland were all too evident last month with the separate deaths of persons from sharks, box jellyfish and boating incidents.

We all need to be aware that when we enter the water for a swim or in a boat we leave the relative safety of our land-based habitat into one with different rules, pecking orders and, importantly, conditions.

In Queensland, we’re blessed with spectacular ecosystems along our coast also face the dangers of more than our fair share of marine predators such as sharks and box jellyfish. Bull sharks are no strangers to Queenslanders. You can catch then everywhere from the ocean to brackish rivers. Sharks are a constant reminder of the healthy status of an ecosystem. Unfortunately that poor girl was in the wrong place at the right time. I am sure lots of us have been in the wrong place at the right time and gotten away with it.

Jellyfish are very common in all tropical waters, especially the Gulf of Carpentaria during the warmer months. They lurk silently beneath the surface and when one of those tentacles comes in contact with your skin (apart from the palms of your hand and the soles of your feet which somehow seem unaffected) then the pain certainly reminds you of the different conditions. If you’re entering the water anywhere along the Gulf in the summer months remember that big box jellyfish are everywhere and that at least a couple of litres of white vinegar should be mandatory equipment while you are near the water.

As for the boating accident, I am sure the causes of the incident will become public through a Coroners Inquest. These pages aren’t really the place to be discussing the hows and why's but it does highlight the fact that if you have an EPIRB in you boat, if certainly pays to have it in a position that it can be instantly accessible to all persons on board in a heartbeat. It will save you life.

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