Swimmers feel sting of region’s beach closures
THE stinger season is at its peak, so it's the appropriate time to take precautions when swimming at the beach.
However, sisters Ashleigh and Karrie Hayward haven't been deterred from going out and making the most of their holidays.
The sisters, who were swimming at Harbour Beach yesterday, said they always took the issue of stingers seriously.
"We are very cautious about stingers but we still like to have fun," Ashleigh said.
"If we were at Town Beach we would be wearing swimmer suits but we feel safer here because lifeguards are watching."
Lifeguard supervisor Hannah Ridland said box jellyfish and irukandji had caused several beach closures so far this stinger season.
"In December we have had four beach closures, with two at Eimeo, one at Sarina and one at the Harbour," Ms Ridland said.
"On New Year's Day we had another closure at Eimeo.
"The closure at the Harbour was caused by irukandji and the rest (of the closures) were (caused by) box jelly
The peak stinger season extends from November to May, however, the period between December and January is the time when jellyfish are most prevalent.
Ms Ridland is urging people to swim at lifeguard- patrolled beaches to avoid the risk.
"I strongly suggest people swim at a patrolled beach because we do a risk assessment three times a day," she said.
"We use two different nets, one for box jellyfish and one for irukandji.
"The public also have a chance to talk to a lifesaver about the risk assessment so they know it is safe."
Mackay Harbour, Eimeo, Lamberts and Sarina beaches are supervised by a lifesaver throughout the school holidays, Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 5pm.
When school resumes at the end of January the beaches will be patrolled at weekends, from 9am to 5pm.
The stinger season is from November to May.
Box jellyfish have caused four beach closures since December.
Irukandji caused one beach closure at the harbour.
Patrolled beaches are supervised Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 5pm, during school holidays