Start of the Stinger Season
In tropical north Australia there is a period where box jellyfish move into coastal areas posing a threat to all water users, this period is during the hot and wet summer months and is called the stinger season. The stinger season runs as a rule between November and March though box jellyfish (stingers) have been sighted all throughout the year. This period is where they are most concentrated and researchers at the James Cook University's TASRU (Tropical Australia Stinger Research Unit) suggest that this season is getting longer.
Research into box jellyfish has been undertaken for decades and is one major reason why Australia leads the way with knowledge and expertise that has seen an effective life saving system of awareness, prevention and treatment implemented across the country's top end.
In Thailand and Malaysia there is nothing in place to even remotely compare with Australia. These countries are utilizing Australian expertise to a point but there are numerous reasons why progress is slow, tourism/hospitality industry resistance is high and the risk to tourists remains the same as it has for many years. No-one knows what the box jellyfish season is in these countries if indeed there is a box jellyfish season at all, perhaps it runs all year?
Many people say that this is Asia so there is inherant risk, it's different to the western world where society perhaps places too high an emphasis on risk and too high a value on the preservation of human life; shit happens they say, bullshit say I! Every human life no matter where in the world is of paramount value, no compromise, no exception!! Countries like Thailand and Malaysia are making vast sums of money from tourism, they promote themselves to families and more are arriving every year seeking an affordable, exotic, culturally rich and relatively safe vacation experience.
So, take responsiblility and do not accept that people will die and be seriously stung and extremely traumatized unexpectedly by a box jellyfish when on holiday when there is a way to increase visitors' awareness and improve safety thus minimizing the risk.
Put some of those profits back into research as Australia has and ultimately save lives, increase the confidence of guests and watch tourism numbers increase - the Great Barrier Reef state of Queensland is a model of this success. The worldwide trend is a dramatic increase in jellyfish numbers. Every time there is a serious or fatal jellyfish sting in Thailand/Malaysia people will panic and potential visitors will seek an alternative destination, get it right now and secure future tourism.
The media in northern Australia is already onto it, unlike Thailand where the media only reports incidents and Malaysia where the media is mute. Australia's media is sending out a reminder, a warning and readers are taking it on board and take precautions as they see fit. This media activity is pro-active and not designed to sell newspapers, it's designed as a community service to save lives.No-one is shoving anything down anyone's throat but no-one is putting their head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.
Box jellyfish and Irukandji prevention nets are being put in place as I write throughout Queensland and the NT in Australia so that people concerned about the risk can swim in safety - at the height of summer holidays these enclosures are full of children safely enjoying the water.
These nets are specially engineered in consultation with TASRU experts to keep box jellyfish out unlike many of the nets that have been hastily placed around resort beaches in Thailand and Malaysia - these might keep floaters out but boxies are clever and can navigate their way around and through standard nets.
Here are some links to Australian newspaper articles that demonstrate how differently Australia looks at this issue compared to Thailand and particularly Malaysia - the loss of life to an innocent child or adult is one Australia is not prepared to take. There may well be bigger killers in terms of numbers that in Thailand/Malaysia are epidemiologically more significant but when you consider that a life is a life and that that life could well be yours or a loved one then if there is something simple that can be done to prevent it from being taken away then it has to be done, no question!