Briton Killed by Sting of An'invisible' 1/2in Jellyfish; Horror as a Round-the-World Tourist Takes His Last Swim in Australia

By Shears, Richard; Irwin, Jonathan | Daily Mail (London), February 2, 2002 | Go to article overview

Briton Killed by Sting of An'invisible' 1/2in Jellyfish; Horror as a Round-the-World Tourist Takes His Last Swim in Australia


Shears, Richard, Irwin, Jonathan, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: RICHARD SHEARS;JONATHAN IRWIN

IT was the size of a peanut and virtually invisible, even in the crystal- clear coastal waters of northern Australia.

When British tourist Richard Jordan brushed against the tiny jellyfish, he probably felt no more than a slight pinprick sensation as he enjoyed his swim in the warm tropical shallows.

But within an hour, the 58-year-old businessman had collapsed in unimaginable pain in the arms of his wife Jean and died soon after from a brain haemorrhage - with medical staff powerless to help him.

Last night, he was declared to be the first known fatality of the Irukandji jellyfish, which experts had long feared would kill someone.

Doctors could do nothing to combat the creature's toxin - which has no known antidote - as it spread through Mr Jordan's body, or to relieve his extreme pain.

'The number of painkillers a person in severe Irukandji pain needs is similar to that received by someone who's been in a near-fatal car crash,' said zoologist Dr James Seymour.

The Jordans, from Driffield, East Yorkshire, were on a round-the-world holiday when tragedy struck.

The 3ft long tentacles of the translucent half-inch wide jellyfish brushed against Mr Jordan as he swam near Hamilton Island, North Queensland.

At first, there were no symptoms - but within 30 minutes he developed cramps, back pain and nausea.

His wife got him to the island's medical centre, but he lapsed into a coma.

A helicopter flew the father of three to a mainland hospital, where staff put him on a saline drip. But he died without regaining consciousness.

Last night, his family were trying to come to terms with the loss of Mr Jordan, a highlyexperienced amateur sailor who survived the 1979 Fastnet yacht race disaster that left 15 competitors dead.

Dr Seymour said he would have been in agony. 'The amount of pain people feel is severe - and I mean really, really, really severe - much worse than that experienced by a mother giving birth.

'And the worst thing is it comes in waves and you get this feeling of impending doom.' Last night the Queensland state government said it will now look into providing funds for research into an Irukandji antidote - pleas it has been turning down because there had been no recorded deaths.

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