Purple Stingers: Stinging Jellyfish Around Sydney

Whilst our sharks, crocodiles and sea snakes tend to grab all the headlines, there are several more common marine dangers in Australia’s coastal waters. These are the ones which are genuinely most likely to affect you and your family.

purple stinger
The purple stinger jellyfish; you never know who you’ll meet swimming around in Sydney

The most common Australian stinging jellyfish is the bluebottle, read all about that here. The most annoying stinging creatures around Sydney are the dreaded sea lice, read about these little blighters here.

The most deadly jellyfish in Australia, however, is the box jellyfish, found in Australia’s tropical seas from Western Australia, across the Northern Territory and into north Queensland. Read all about the box jellyfish here.

Today though, I’d like to introduce you to a very pretty Sydney stinging jellyfish, the purple stinger. And I am here to give you the following advice: look but do not touch.

Here’s a 20 second video of a purple stinger, taken by me off Shelly Beach, Manly.

Isn’t the purple stinger just a delightful creature to look at? It is so elegant. I adore seeing the tiny fish living amongst its eight tentacles.

The purple stinger seems very fragile, so it is a surprise to learn that has an alternative name, the purple people eater.

Purple stingers are found throughout the waters off eastern Australia. They are generally about 10cm across the bell, according to the Australian Museum.

Purple stinger stings

The purple stinger’s tentacles, arms, mouth and bell are covered in stinging cells called nematocysts. If you touch them they will give you a rash which stings and is itchy.

If you are stung, apply a cold pack which should relieve the pain. If concerned, ask the advice of a pharmacist or doctor.

Like Sydney’s blue-ringed octopus, these are beautiful creatures to observe in the wild. But they need to be treated with respect and absolutely left in peace. If these two sea creatures had a Latin motto, it would be ‘nemo me impune lacessit’ (no-one provokes me with impunity, a Scottish favourite.)

However, I don’t think jellyfish generally have Latin mottos. Anyway…

Another stunning Sydney jellyfish

A sting-free jellyfish, also seen off Manly

A jellyfish that is common around Sydney and which will do you no harm is the one above, the phyllorhiza punctata, or Australian spotted jellyfish. These marine creatures can be up to 50cm across the bell. If touched, they may give you a very, very mild sting, easily stopped by washing with vinegar.

I will keep a close eye out for more jellyfish in Sydney’s coastal waters, whilst keeping them at a distance, of course.

Have you been stung in the sea yourself?

Which do you find worse, sea lice or bluebottles?

If you love fun facts about Australia check this post.

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  1. says: Edu

    I have noticed quite a few small (maybe 10cm diameter max), round jellyfish floating in Sydney Harbour as far in as Iron Cove. Are these harmful in any way?

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