Thousands of bluebottles have washed up on North Coast beaches.
Thousands of bluebottles have washed up on North Coast beaches. Deb Milgate

'Thousands' of bluebottles invade our beaches

IT MAY not be swimming weather just yet, but even a walk on the beach could lead to painful consequences at the moment.

Residents have reported thousands of bluebottles have been washed up on North Coast beaches right up and down the coast.

And although they might be dead, don't think it's safe to pick them up or step on them.

According to researchers from the CSIRO, when these organisms are stranded, there is just one rule to avoid a nasty sting: don't touch them.

"They can deliver painful stings long after the organism has died, through mechanical action of their hair-trigger-laden stinging cells," the CSIRO explained.

Bluebottle tentacles deliver a sharp, painful sting, even when the creature itself is dead.

The pain - which can last for hours - is intensified if the affected area is rubbed.

According to Surf Life Saving NSW, bluebottles are a very common stinger around Australia.

"They have a small blue air-filled sac and usually one single tentacle that can be more than a metre long," SLS NSW says on its website.

How do you treat a bluebottle sting?

According to advice from the NSW Ambulance Service, the best options are:

  • A major sting to the face or neck area should be treated urgently, especially if there is swelling. Phone Triple-0 immediately and ask for an ambulance
  • Remove any tentacles that are stuck to the skin with tweezers or a gloved hand
  • Wash the site of the sting with lots of seawater
  • Immerse the victim's site of the sting in tolerably hot water
  • If hot water is not available apply ice packs, avoiding direct contact with the skin by wrapping the ice pack in a towel.

What you should NOT do:

  • Do not apply vinegar
  • Do not rub sand on the area.