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This box jellyfish was captured recently at Yacht Haven Marina

Box Jellyfish 'Found On Phuket's West Coast'

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
A BOX Jellyfish sighting has been confirmed on Phuket's west coast, raising concerns about just how far the dangerous marine stinger has spread in Phuket waters.

The box jellyfish was found at the northern end of Bang Tao Bay by a couple on a luxury yacht, anchored about 50 or 60 metres offshore.

They pulled the jellyfish up but it was subsequently washed overboard by a friend who did not realise it was being kept in a bucket for reference.

Only later did the couple learn that the box jellyfish had become a cause for concern in the region.

They contacted Dr Somchai Bussarawit, the chief of the museum and aquarium at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, and today were able to identify a photograph of a single-tentacle box jellyfish as the one they captured.

Tina Marinis told Phuketwan: ''We anchored in about three metres of water, as shallow as we could, up near the sandbar end.

''It was December 30. We think it was probably drawn to the underwater lights.

'' We told some friends about it later and they said we should report it.''

Ms Marinis and partner Steve Lewenhoff, both from Perth, Western Australia, spend six months of the year on a 60-ft single-hull luxury yacht based at Royal Phuket Marina, on Phuket's east coast.

Dr Somchai met the couple at the marina this morning.

Ms Marinis told Phuketwan that Mr Lewenhoff had seen box jellyfish before, in the waters of northern Australia, where swimmers wear stinger suits.

''It's not as though box jellyfish are a raging problem here,'' Ms Martinis said.

Thai authorities met in Bangkok last month and formulated a three-pronged plan to assess the prevalence of the two species of box jellyfish now known to be in the waters of Phang Nga Bay.

They are also commencing a campaign to alert people to the presence of the potentially deadly stingers, and to hand out vinegar for treatment.

Until today, confirmed sightings of box jellyfish had been confined to Phuket's east coast and Krabi, where a young tourist died from stings earlier this year.

There is no sign yet that the box jellyfish is likely to establish a presence on Phuket's popular west coast beaches, but marine biologists are still investigating the creatures and their habits.

Worldwide, jellyfish numbers are increasing, probably because quantities of their natural predators, fish and turtles, are diminishing.

The Governor of Phuket, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, has urged a cautious approach, with appropriate warnings, but advises there is no need as yet for alarm.

People in the tourism industry note that Australia remains an attractive destination despite being home to box jellyfish and a large number of other deadly creatures.

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