Ecology of Box Jellyfish and Irukandji

Great Barrier Reef

Associate Professor Jamie Seymour

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Project Background
They may appear fragile, but these Cubozoan Jellyfish are highly venomous and in tropical coastal areas, dictate our coastal activities.

Within the tropical waters of Australia there are many species of venomous animals that have the potential to cause death in humans. One major group are the box jellyfish, which includes the large box jellyfish and irukandji jellyfish. Both of these groups of jellyfish change the entire way humans interact with the marine environment, limiting the types of activities and the areas in which they can be carried out. These jellyfish can cause death in envenomed victims and are responsible for many hospitalisations per year on the tropical east coast of Australia as well as other tropical marine realms in the world. However, little is known about the ecology of these animals and what types of environmental conditions affect their distribution and occurrence.


Projects exist that investigate the general biology and ecology of these groups of animals leading to an understanding of what drives their population numbers and distribution.

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Gordon, M.R., & Seymour, J.E., 2009 Quantifying Movement Patterns of the Tropical Australian Cubozoan Chironex fleckeri Using Acoustic Telemetry. Hydrobiologia 206:87-97

Garm, A., Coates, M.M., Gad, R., Seymour, J.E., Nilsson, D.E. 2007 The Lens Eyes of the Box Jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora And Chiropsalmus sp. Are Slow And Color-Blind. Journal Of Comparative Physiology A-Neuroethology Sensory Neural And Behavioral Physiology. 193(5):547-557

Shorten, M., Davenport, J., Seymour, J.E. , Cross, M., Carrette, T., Woodward, G., & Cross, T.F. 2005. Kinematic Analysis of Swimming in Australian Box Jellyfish - Chiropsalmus sp. and Chironex fleckeri (Cubozoa, Cnidaria, Chirodropidae). Journal Of Zoology 267: 371-380 Part 4 

Seymour, J.E., Carrette, T., & Sutherland, P. 2004. Do Box Jellyfish Sleep at Night? Med J Aust., 118:707