A young Brit who was holidaying Down Under with his girlfriend was stung by one of the most venomous creatures on Earth, causing "excruciating pain" and leaving him fearing for his life.
James Soale was stung on the forearm by a Irukandji jellyfish while swimming at Palm Beach Cove in Cairns in tropical far north Queensland after arriving there from London in March.
The 22-year-old was with his girlfriend Savannah Callaghan, 23, when he felt a small sting on his forearm which he at first dismissed.
"I think after about 30 seconds I went straight back up (to the lifeguard) saying I had tight chest pains and was struggling to breathe," Mr Soale told Yahoo News.
"After that it was just excruciating pain in my lower back and they called an ambulance," he said.
The Irukandji jellyfish are any of several similar, extremely venomous species of box jellyfish.
With a very small adult size of about a cubic centimetre, they are both the smallest and one of the most venomous jellyfish in the world and they inhabit the northern marine waters of Australia.
"James was just like shouting, screaming and saying he felt like he was gonna die, which was traumatic to watch," Ms Callaghan added.
Irukandji jellyfish's stings are so severe they can cause fatal brain haemorrhages and on average send 50-100 people to the hospital annually.
They became well known in 2002 when Richard Jordan, a British tourist, died after being stung by one of them.
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"[The head lifeguard] turned to me at one point and said, 'you're going to experience probably some of the worst pain of your life'," James said.
Ms Callaghan said he then began showing symptoms of 'Irukandji syndrome', a state that scientists have described as “a feeling of impending doom.”
“Patients believe they’re going to die and they’re so certain of it that they’ll actually beg their doctors to kill them just to get it over with,” Australian biologist Lisa Gershwin told ABC radio in 2007.
Two weeks on, Mr Soale has now made a full recovery with no lasting damage.
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