Marine researchers say climate change could be altering the migration patterns of the dangerous Irukandji jellyfish along Queensland’s coast.
Research conducted by Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute shows warming ocean temperatures could cause the lethal jellyfish to migrate further south.
It says numbers of the Irukandji jellyfish could grow within the next five years off the state’s south-east.
Head researcher Shannon Klein says there has been sightings of the Irukandji as far south as Hervey Bay.
“We could see increased incidences of the adult jellyfish coming down on the east Australian current,” she said.
“With climate change, the current is strengthening, so in the short-term if the habitats are available, then it is possible that they could establish.”
However she says a likely drop in ocean acidity will restrict long-term breeding.
“While Irukandji – the breeding populations could tolerate the conditions in more southern waters – they are unlikely to establish breeding populations in the long-term because the acidification inhibited the development of the young jellyfish,” she said.
“Although they will survive, they won’t thrive.”