Consortium of Jellyfish Stings
The International Consortium for Jellyfish Stings (ICJS) was established in 1988 in order to facilitate the transfer of information about these injuries, their clinical manifestations, and pathogenesis. It maintains a database of worldwide jellyfish stings in an effort to learn more about their incidence. manifestations, complications, and epidemiology.
Currently there are more than 10 species that are the subject of large scale study. One species that is the subject of extensive study is Chironex fleckeri, commonly called the box jellyfish or improperly the sea wasp. It is considered by some to be the world's most venomous animal, producing a venom capable of killing a human in less than 15 minutes of excruciating pain.
It is found in Australian estuaries and inshore waters north of the Tropic of Capricorn and north to Singapore and the Philipines. It is responsible for at least one Australian death per year, on average, and unknown numbers in the rest of its range.
The genus Chironex has one species and is a member of the order Cubomedusae and the family Chirodropidae. It is related to Chiropsalmus quadrigatus, another large box jelly, and to the Tamoya sp., one of the jellyfish responsible for the Irukandji syndrome.
C. fleckeri is relatively cube shaped with a 20 cm diameter, about the size of an American soccer ball (football). It has four pedalia, (sing. pedalium) one on each of the four lower corners.
Each pedalium supports up to 15 three meter long tentacles containing four types of nematocysts. Of these four nematocyst types, the microbasic mastigiophores, are probably the ones responsible for human envenomation (Endean and Rifkin, Toxicon 13, 375-376 1975).
A second species under study is Chrysaora quinquecirrha, the Atlantic Sea nettle. These are found all along the American Atlantic coast with the highest concentrations in the Chesapeake Bay region. They have two color phases, pink and clear, that were once thought to be separate species. These jellyfish have no pedalia but have tentacles emanating from the entire outer edge of its circular bell.
In addition they have longer, frilly, lace-like mesenteric tentacles that fall from the edges of its mouth. These are used during the eating process and possess an active venom with a different composition from the outer fishing tentacles.