Killer jelly named after victim
A LETHAL jellyfish unique to northern waters has been named for one of its victims.
Discovered by stinger researcher Lisa-ann Gershwin in 1999, the jelly has been formally dubbed Malo Kingi after victim Robert King.
"I named it to honour Robert King, the American tourist who is believed to have been killed by this species," Dr Gershwin, who named the species in a just-published report in Zootaxa journal, said.
"Not because it killed him, but rather, because his death was such a pivotal point in irukandji management and public awareness about safety."
Dr Gershwin matched cells retrieved from Mr King's clothes with Malo Kingi cells, pinpointing the animal as the likely cause of his death.
"The stinging cells were not only a perfect match, but a unique match," she said.
"It's like a fingerprint."
Dr Gershwin believes that Mr King's 2002 death, in waters off Port Douglas, raised awareness of irukandji syndrome and prompted research into its treatment.
"It's an absolute tragedy that he was killed, but the positive part that came out of this tragic situation is that he’s saving the lives of other people," she said.
Dr Gershwin said the Malo Kingi, distinguished from other irukandji by the halo-like rings of tissue that circle its tentacles, may have the world's most potent venom.
"I'd have to say it's a front-runner for sure," she said. "Just a touch of venom from this species is believed to raise the blood pressure in a previously well person to lethal levels."
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Deadly: Researcher Lisa-ann Gershwin has named the Malo Kingi after victim Robert King. Picture: Lisa-ann Gershwin
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