URGENT HELP is being sought from Australian researchers after the discovery of box jellyfish in the sea around Phuket and a death in waters off Krabi.
While marine biologists say it is too early for tourists to be alarmed, research on the prevalence of the deadly marine creatures has become a priority.
One Swedish tourist died from a box jellyfish sting off the coast of Krabi in April this year.
A spokesperson for the Phuket Marine Biology Centre said that testing is likely to confirm biologists' suspicions that the type discovered on Phuket is not the same variety as the killer box jellyfish.
The jellyfish discovered off Phuket were caught in mangrove traps at Nam Bor Bay, near Saphan Hin in Phuket City, on the east coast of the island, on July 30.
Between 10 and 20 box jellyfish of the Chirodropidae family were captured by a fisherman who took them to the biology centre.
Today samples of the jellyfish are being sent to Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin at the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service in Townsville.
A previous attempt was made about one month ago to enlist the aid of Australian scientists, the biology centre spokesperson said.
In April, a Swedish girl died from a box jellyfish sting at Koh Lanta, off the coast of Krabi.
An earlier death had been reported in 2002 off Koh Phangnan, near Samui, in the Gulf of Siam, on the other side of the Isthmus of Kra.
Phuketwan has since learned that two people died from jellyfish stings there in 2002, an Australian and a Swiss.
Biologists on Phuket suspect the Swedish girl killed in the latest incident died from a strike by a jellyfish from the Carybdeidae variety, different to the non-deadly type they believe has now been found in Phuket waters.
The jellyfish involved in the death was not captured, so their conclusions so far have been based on the circumstances and the wound suffered by the victim.
Biologists went to the area in early July and captured five box jellyfish. These were the Chirodropidae family variety.
On August 22, seven more box jellyfish were captured by fishermen in that area and sent to the biology centre. These were found to be the deadly Type One Carybdeidae variety.
Both types found in waters off Phuket and Krabi are different to the species found off Australia, where box jellyfish in tropical north-east waters have been known to kill in three or four minutes.
Fishermen have told the biological centre that the jellyfish usually appear after heavy rain.
Their tentacles extend up to a metre and the jellyfish are transparent and hard to see.
A letter from Andrew Jones of Melbourne, Australia, in the latest issue of the Phuket Post describes the circumstances of his son surviving a sting ''in a remote area on the other side of the country.''
That attack is recorded as having taken place at Koh Mak, in Trat, on the Gulf of Siam.
Mr Jones adds in his letter: ''Thailand's public health facilities do not keep proper records on the subject and do not know what they are looking for. Anecdotal evidence suggests villagers are buried without official notice.
''If it was reported that deaths from box jellyfish were in the 10s annually, which it is believed in all seriousness to be (more than Australia) then obviously more people would pay attention.''
The letter adds: ''Divers aren't in the best position to spot transparent box jellyfish with a habitat of shallow sandy beaches.
''In June I pulled up dozens of juvenile specimens off Lanta (which would be fully grown by now.)''
Later Mr Jones told Phuketwan: ''There are plenty more nasty issues and things in Thailand that do a lot of killing so this has not been a priority of the authorities and just ''gets in the way'' of tourism.
''The model in Australia is that knowing about them actually assists tourism People don't want nasty surprises on holiday.''
Phuketwan is now seeking a comment from senior health authorities in Bangkok.
Jellyfish tend to increase in numbers and expand territory when the fish that eat them are being caught in great numbers.
A version of this article appeared in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong on October 21