The official word from one expert: A "hell of a lot" of people have been stung by jellyfish lately on Queensland's Gold and Sunshine coasts in Australia. Over the weekend alone, more than 5,000 people were stung as weather drove an armada of bluebottle jellyfish toward shore, the Guardian reports. And between Dec. 1 and Jan. 7, 22,282 people were stung across Queensland—compared to 6,831 during that same period the year prior. The aforementioned expert notes that typically, just 25,000 to 45,000 people are stung over the course of an entire year in all of Australia.
The Guardian explains that bluebottles have been active in the region lately and windy conditions can blow them all the way to land at times; the weekend saw unusually strong north-easterly swell conditions. Several people who were bit suffered anaphylactic shock. The Washington Post reports that scientists are calling this a jellyfish "epidemic," and are wondering whether climate change plays a role. "Jellyfish are demanding our attention right now and we should be giving it to them," says one scientist. "Those stings are an indication that something is wrong with our oceans—and we’re silly that we’re not listening." (Florida had a similar problem over the summer.)