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  1. ITV Report

Thousands stung on Australian beaches after 'invasion' of bluebottle jellyfish

A Portuguese man o' war washed up on a Queensland beach. Credit: EBU

Thousands of people were stung by highly venomous jellyfish in north-eastern Australia over the weekend, forcing authorities to close several beaches.

The "wall of bluebottles" - also known as Portuguese man o' war - swept Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine coasts and was described as an "invasion" by local media.

Stings from Portuguese man o' war are notoriously painful and coastguard association Surf Life Saving said a "whopping" 3,595 people had been stung, although other estimates put that number at more than 5,000.

At least four major beaches were closed as a result of the influx.

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Portuguese man o' war are not uncommon in the region but the sheer number of stings over the weekend shocked authorities.

There are usually around 10,000 cases of bluebottle stings each year on the east coast of Australia, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

It is thought that the extreme number of stings over the weekend was due to strong onshore winds coming in from the north-east, bringing a large number of the creatures into contact with swimmers.

Many of the affected beaches reopened on Monday.