Of beaches and vinegar

port douglas four mile beach lifesaving vinegar jellyfish
A young boy rides his bike on Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas with a surf lifesaving board in the foreground, and two bottles of vinegar for jellyfish stings.

One of the good things about being a photographer working in various arenas is that you get to photograph a topic from a wide variety of angles.

Over the years I have done a lot of work photographing various researchers at James Cook University. Just before I took this photograph I had been photographing the jellyfish researchers in the lab. This talented team are researching the life cycle of the jellyfish so that we can learn more about when and where they breed, when they start to appear at our beaches and what we can do to mitigate the stings that inevitably occur.

Then a few days later I was here, at Four Mile Beach in beautiful Port Douglas. Where a little boy riding his bike was covered head to knee in protective clothing, and the local surf rescue board has beside it two bottles of vinegar.

Now the surf rescue board can be found anywhere in Australia. The vinegar? Not so much. It’s there to pour on jellyfish stings should they occur. Every November to May the stinger nets are out, and while it’s pretty safe to swim in them they’re not foolproof. Little stingers can get through sometimes. And lots of people unwisely choose not to swim in the nets.

If you’re up this way during summer and you feel like a dip, in all honesty, you’re taking your life in your hands if you don’t go in the nets. They’re there for a reason. Better to play it safe.

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