Dry holds back stingers in Cairns
THE Far North's unseasonably dry start to summer has delivered a bonus for beachgoers, with marine stinger numbers well down on previous years.
Beaches around the region are proving popular with visitors almost two months into stinger season, with the potentially deadly creatures so far sparse at local swimming spots.
North Queensland Surf Life Saving Queensland branch president Col Sparkes said the lack of rain had played a part.
"It is unusual, we've usually got something by now," he said.
"We haven't had any rain. The box jellyfish needs the rain and they come out chasing the smaller prawns."
James Cook University jellyfish expert Dr Jamie Seymour said the warmer weather had kept stinger numbers down.
"They're not around in huge numbers and we won't see anything until we get some rain," he said.
"It's been very hot and very dry and the southerlies have been blowing which we normally don't have this time of year."
Dr Seymour said there had been several irukandji stings reported on the outer reefs in the past six weeks, but the potentially deadly stingers had so far stayed away from the beaches.
"Lifeguards are getting stingers in ones and twos but not in the numbers we're used to," he said.
Dr Seymour said swimmers should stay within the nets and warned the stinger season could potentially last until June.
"It just depends what the weather does between now and then," he said.
Brisbane woman Susan Prosova, who relaxed at Trinity Beach yesterday, said she has felt confident swimming in the nets during her three-day holiday in Cairns.
"At first I was a little scared when I saw the warnings about crocodiles and stingers, but I've become used to it," she said.
Cairns parents Graham and Kylie Camp, who visited Trinity Beach yesterday with children Amy, 10, and Sarah, 8, as well as neighbour Rianna, 12, said they were enjoying some fun in the sun.
""It's beautiful, really good," Mrs Camp said.
"I usually bring the kids out during school holidays for a swim."
In the first 27 days of the month Cairns has only received 30.6mm of rain, well below the December average of 180mm.
With temperatures peaking at 32C yesterday, beach conditions look set to remain calm and clear, with mostly fine weather, scattered showers and temperatures about 32C today and at the weekend.
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On guard: With the stinger season is now well under way, lifeguard Travis Simmonds watches the swimmers in the net at Trinity Beach. Picture: FRANCIS BRENDAN