When one lucky island keeper swims too deep, the sting from a lethal jellyfish nearly costs him his life, and his career in paradise.
Winner of the “Best Job in the World” title, Ben Southall, beat out nearly 35, 000 applicants worldwide, scoring the job of a lifetime. For 6 months, Southall was hired to explore and relax on the beautiful Hamilton Island, Australia, located in the Great Barrier Reef. Southall was paid to blog about the island in order to promote tourism for the area, receiving a salary of $120, 000 (American) for his efforts. What a drag. (The contest was run by Tourism Queensland, a statutory body of the Queensland (Australia) government.)
Despite his credentials and training, Southall made a mistake that nearly got him killed on the last week of his job. When dismounting his Jet-Ski off the coast of the island, Southall claimed to have felt a “small, bee-like sting” on his arm. When this small sting led to a tingling in his hands and feet, he reported to the island staff and was immediately rushed to the hospital.
As the symptoms worsened, his fever, headache, lower back pain, chest tightness and high blood pressure led to his diagnosis: Southall was stung by the deadly Irukandji jellyfish. No larger in size than a peanut, Irukandji are nearly invisible, and small enough to pass through most fishing nets. Symptoms of a sting may include shooting pains in the muscles and chest, vomiting, restlessness and anxiety. The symptoms may last for over a week, and the sting occasionally leads to a rapid rise in blood pressure and even heart failure.
"This was not what I'd wanted at all and had caught me little off guard to say the least — I'm supposed to be relaxing in my last few days on Hamilton Island,” wrote Southall. "I really should have been wearing a full stinger suit, as it’s recommended at all beaches here at this time of year."
After receiving pain medication and a good night’s sleep, the effects of the venom wore off, and the 34-year-old former charity worker was revived and ready to finish the job. He says he enjoyed his last week in the workplace.