The Northern Territory has a magnificent coast, which some areas are swimmable through certain times of the year with the right precautions.

Many visitors to our beaches and waterways are unaware of the dangers they potentially face. The large tidal movement, treacherous rips and gutters and dangerous marine creatures can pose significant risks for inexperienced beachgoers.

Today, with ever increasing numbers of beachgoers it’s important to alert them to the dangers of the surf and beach environment.  Being beach safe is about understanding and recognising the potential dangers, learning how to avoid them and knowing how to help someone if they get into trouble.  It’s important to remember that if you follow some simple rules, everyone can enjoy the beach safely.

There are harmful marine creatures in Top End waters so make sure to take care at all times.

Crocodiles

In Darwin it is best to swim at Mindil Beach, Nightcliff Beach or Casuarina Beach when lifeguards and lifesavers are on duty. There hasn't been a fatal crocodile attack at these beaches for over 120 years.

If you are not swimming at a patrolled beach we recommend you follow the advice of the NT Government's Parks & Wildlife Service.

In Nhulunbuy you should swim at Town Beach when lifesavers are on duty or at Shady Beach or Little Bondi Beach where lifesavers operate patrols.

Dangerous Tropical Jellyfish

One species of tropical jellyfish is particularly dangerous - the Box Jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri).

Look at the Box Jellyfish Poster (above) to learn to tell the difference between Chironex Fleckeri (Box Jellyfish) and Chiropsalmus, a species more commonly found on the Gove Peninsula beaches. It breeds and swarms in shallow water during the wet season so don't swim in the ocean at this time without wearing full protective clothing. Just don't!

This animal grows to a large size, often around 300 mm or more across the main body with tentacles that extend for several metres.  Its sting is extremely painful. Another dangerous jellyfish is very small - the Irukandji - but its sting may go unnoticed.  Symptoms occur in 5 - 30 minutes after being stung and include hypertension, racing pulse, lower back pain and a feeling of great anxiety.

In areas where dangerous tropical jellyfish are prevalent, and if the species causing the sting cannot be clearly identified, it is safer to treat the victim as outlined below.

Treatment for tropical jellyfish stings

  1. Remove the patient from the water and restrain if necessary
  2. Call for help (get a surf lifesaver or lifeguard to help you and call 000)
  3. Assess the patient and commence CPR as necessary
  4. Liberally douse the stung area with vinegar to neutralise invisible stinging cells - do not wash with fresh water
  5. If vinegar is unavailable, pick off any remnants of the tentacles (this is not harmful to the rescuer) and rinse sting well with seawater (not freshwater)
  6. Seek medical assistance with rapid transport to hospital

Ice may be applied for local pain relief for less severe stings.

For more information download the Stay Stinger Safe Brochure.

Surf Life Saving QLD experiences similar conditions to the Territory and have created a fantastic range of fact sheets to provide more beach safety information, and are available below to download.

Blue ring octopus

Cone shell

Crocodile

Sea snakes

Shark

Stingray

Stonefish

Glossary

There are harmful marine creatures in Top End waters so make sure to take care at all times.