Box Jellyfish

Question:
Recently I was told by a dive instructor that the sting of the box jellyfish can be treated with urine. I have been unable to confirm this and in fact have always believed that vinegar was the only immediate treatment. I would be grateful if you could clear this up for me.

Answer:
From Alert Diver (Europe) II/2000
Jellyfish Stings. A diver can accidentally brush against a jellyfish: this stimulus causes the animal to react. It discharges nematocysts, or stinging cells, which can result in a painful injury for the diver. Once discharged, the nematocysts penetrate the skin and inject venom. The severity of the resulting injury depends upon the type of jellyfish, the potency of the venom and the amount of venom injected. The reaction to the stinging cells varies greatly from mild itching all the way to respiratory and cardiac arrest. A few species deserve special recognition. The box jellyfish, or sea wasp, (Chironex fleckeri), irukandji (Caukia barnesi) and the Portuguese Man-O-War (Physalia physalis) can cause excruciating pain. Of these, a sting from the australian box jellyfish, may be lethal. Any diver who is stung by the box jellyfish should receive the antivenin as quickly as possible. The pressure immobilization technique, helps delay the absorption of venom and may be useful in slowing down the venom¹s progress.

FIRST AID for STINGS. If a diver is stung, assess the situation and provide first aid. Neutralize the nematocysts: pour a liberal amount of acetic acid 5 percent (white vinegar) over the injured area: this prevents further injury to the diver and reduces the risk to the rescuer of being stung while providing first aid. If vinegar is unavailable, irrigate with sea water or saline solution. Be sure to wear protective medical gloves to avoid disease transmission and possible injury from any remaining nematocysts. Once the stinging cells have been neutralized, you can remove any remaining tentacles with forceps or tweezers. You can also shave the area with shaving cream and a safety razor. Apply hydrocortisone cream or lotion and monitor for allergic reaction and/or infection. If the diver experiences pain, apply ice or an ice pack to the area.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: There is no current scientifical / medical justification to use urine (urea) as a first aid measure in these circumstances. Quote from Dr. Carl Edmonds, Dangerous Marine Creatures: " Recent surveys at the James Cook Universtity of Townsville, and the Royal Australian Navy School of Underwater Medicine, suggest that alcohol is of no value in either prevention or treatment, and in many circumstances may actively trigger the discharge of more nematocysts. "

Question:
I plan to travel from England to dive at the Great barrier Reef between 10th and 28th of July this year. I would like to know of any reasons that this time might be ill-advised: Are there risks of box jelly fish or bad water-conditions at that time of year?

Answer:

 

Although the majority of stings and encounters occurs between November and April in the waters off Northern Australia, the Box Jellyfish can appear in other months, if seasonal conditions permit. However all beaches and diving centers of that area are extremely careful and alert in that respect and accidents to divers are very rare, while they are definitely more frequent in swimmers.