The Magnificent Coast & Marine Creatures of the Top End 

The Northern Territory is a unique part of Australia - with an incredible coast line, largely consisting of wetlands and mangroves. These environments are home to a range of  beautiful, yet potentially dangerous marine creatures. 

Unlike most of the Australian coastline, the NT experiences large tidal movements, ranging from 1.5 to 8 meters. This movement of water poses a potential risk to locals and tourists whilst visiting  the beach. As the tide retreats, rips and sweeps often form without visual warning, gutters and varies species of marine creatures also become exposed. 

Thousands of people visit the NT every year, with this number growing it is a priority of ours to ensure there is sufficient information available about the potential dangers of the Territory, ways to avoid the hazards of our unique coastline and how to best way to manage and help someone when in need, all the while being able to enjoy our incredible beaches.

For more information on patrols and beach conditions head to the Beach Safe website. 

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. Our lifesavers have experience in risk management regarding the presence and management of crocodiles.

If you are swimming at an unpatrolled beach it is recommended you follow the advice of the NT Government's Parks & Wildlife Service.

In Nhulunbuy, the volunteer lifeguards periodically patrol Town Beach, Shady Beach or Little Bondi Beach.

Dangerous Tropical Jellyfish

Box Jelly Fish (Chironex fleckeri).

Box jellyfish can be identified by the box like shape to their 'bell'. They are often transparent, or slightly blue in colour. Mature box jellyfish typically have around 15 tentacles originating from each of the 4 corners of the bell. These venomous tentacles can grow up to 2m in length. It breeds and swarms in shallow water during the wet season. Its sting is extremely painful.

Irukandji 

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Often the victim of an irukandji sting will show signs of agitation confusion. The patient will rapidly begin to loose consciousness  respiratory failure and/or cardiac arrest. Due to the rapidity of onset of symptoms, immediate first-aid is vital and cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be required. Victims often require hospitalisation and serious painkillers and intravenous narcotics.

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 
  2. Call for help - if there is a surf lifesaver or lifeguard available, or a member of the public to call 000)
  3. If the patient is not breathing commence CPR 
  4. Pour vinegar over the stung area for as long as possible, or until the vinegar runs out  - 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 
  6. Seek medical assistance 

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