The Box Jellyfish is a complete asshole, but even that looks like goddamn kitten compared to the Irukandji. There are a lot fewer deaths from Irukandji than Box Jellyfish: only two confirmed, compared to more than 60.
But sometimes it’s not about numbers. And it’s about size, either. The cubic head is only the size of a fingernail. It’s one of the smallest Jellyfish in the world. It’s not the amount of venom injected either. While the tentacles of a Box Jellyfish sting all along the surface that makes contact with the skin, an Irukandji stings only from the very tips.
No, what the Irukanji has to offer is horror. Stings by the Irukandji are unspeakably painful. One woman described the experience by saying that the pain came in waves, and that the pain of childbirth was around the same as the LOWEST level of pain. And this was at an extreme dosage of morphine.
But no. That’s not enough. There’s also Impending Doom.
Impending doom is an unusual symptom of Irukandji Syndrome, where the victim feels a rising terror, fear of an unknown threat. This dread is so powerful that it’s not uncommon for sufferers to ask their doctor to kill them, as they’re sure they’re going to die anyway. There is a theory that people with minor stings have tried to escape the monster they sense coming for them, and swum off to their death, drowning.
The agony of being stung by these hellspawn lasts for more than a day, and symptoms can linger for weeks.
A lot of our knowledge of Irukanji venom comes from a number of researchers who were stung by Irukanji on purpose. This includes Jack Barnes, who first confirmed this monster was the cause of the syndrome by putting one on his arm. I assume as soon as he did it he yelled to the camera “and this is Jackass”. The species is now either named after him or classic Australian blue collar rocker Jimmy Barnes.