School of Law and Justice, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Lynda Crowley-Cyr has completed her PhD at the Sydney University Law School. Her area of interest is Health Law and Safety. She is an Associate Professor at the School of Law and Justice at the University of Southern Queensland. She relocated there in 2011 after 22 years at James Cook University where her interest in marine stingers begun. She was admitted as a barrister in 1991 and has been a presiding member of a Tribunal in Australia. She has published book chapters and numerous papers in reputed refereed journals, and has served as a referree for various high end journals.
The Irukandji jellyfish sting can cause a range of symptoms from cramping and nausea to death. Aside from the health implications, marine based industries such as fishing and tourism can be negatively impacted. The aim of the current study was to assess comprehension of a sign used to warn of the Irukandji danger. 109 local residents and tourists to Palm Cove beach, on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef coastline, and Irukandji hot-spot, were interviewed during the main Irukandji season to assess their understanding of the warning sign and their perceptions of swimming safety. Over 70% of participants saw the sign, but many still thought it was safe to swim inside purpose-built marine stinger nets. Those that knew it was unsafe to swim in the nets were unsure why. The message on the sign was found to be unclear as to what the actual danger was and the potential risk posed by an Irukandji sting. Some words and colours were inconsistent with beachgoers expectations of a danger sign. With regards to Irukandji risk, signs should include a brief overview of the Irukandji, consequences of being stung, how to avoid being stung and what to do if a sting should occur. In addition, fifty seven various signs were counted in the immediate area perhaps resulting in signage overload. Other strategies could be employed in the local area to keep people safe, including comprehension reviews in situ to improve warning signs, escalating warnings during peak Irukandji times and distributing additional educational materials to visitors