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Lifeguards busy with bluebottle bother

Date

John Thistleton

Enjoying the surf at South Broulee are Jacob, 10 and Claudia Kos, 11, from Deakin.

Enjoying the surf at South Broulee are Jacob, 10 and Claudia Kos, 11, from Deakin. Photo: Graham Tidy

North east winds have blown blue bottle jellyfish onto South Coast beaches, keeping lifeguards busy easing painful stings.

Swimmers have been stung at Broulee, Narooma, Pambula and Bermagui.

Luke Bombanato, 6, of Summer Hill, saw them but was undeterred.

Enjoying the surf at South Broulee are Sharon Schaefer of Broulee and her grandson, 6 year old Luke Bombanato of Summer Hill.

Enjoying the surf at South Broulee are Sharon Schaefer of Broulee and her grandson, 6 year old Luke Bombanato of Summer Hill. Photo: Graham Tidy

His grandmother Sharon Schaefer, enjoying a sea-change at Broulee, was happy to run the gauntlet with the little stingers.

"We have seen four, not enough to worry about," she said.

At Broulee on Thursday lifeguard Ben McKay said the north-east winds picked up blue bottles out to sea and blew them on shore.

Broulee was more protected than some of the other beaches and it was not such a problem.

He said the best remedy was warm water.

"Make it as hot as you can stand it – a hot shower or a hot bath." Volunteer lifesavers rescued two men caught in a rip at an unpatrolled beach at Moruya Wall about 12.30pm on Thursday, where they had been camping nearby.

Far South Coast Lifesaving Association Andrew Edmunds said the rip had carried them about 50 to 60 metres out to sea – a long way for two people whop could not swim.

Each beach had potential for danger, Mr Edmunds said.

"The way a rip operates, the water carried in by the surf heads back out to sea. So any beach you see a wave, you will see a rip. They are easy to spot. They are usually where the waves are not breaking.

"It is not so much the rip that gets people into difficulty, it is the panic which flows from being caught in a rip.

"A rip will never pull you under the water or drown you. It's the fact people will panic and tire out when they find themselves caught in one because they generally try and swim against it which is pretty hard to do.

"A rip will never pull you under the water, it's when people get tired and panic, they can't swim any more and drown. It is the highest cause of coastal drownings in Australia, I think they had 47 drownings last year, compared to one fatal shark attack in the last 20 years.

"Rip currents are the most deadly thing at the beach, but if you know what you are doing, they are fine.

"We use them to our advantage, we use them to get out to the waves quicker." Thirteen beaches are patrolled on the South Coast between Batemans Bay and Eden.

Volunteer surf lifesavers patrol seven beaches.

Eurobodalla Council lifeguards patrol another three beaches and another three in Bega Valley.

Every beach will have red and yellow flags.

Visit the website: beachsafe.org.au which has directions to every patrolled beach.

It even has live information on surf conditions witnessed by the life savers on duty that day and surf safety ratings.

"You can also pick and choose which beaches to go to, based on what your interests are - if you are after waves.

"For instance Narooma Beach has got a lot of surf there whereas Surf Beach is quite flat and calm. It will give families that opportunity to pick and choose where they go, but also make sure they head to a patrolled beach, that's the easiest way to keep out of trouble in summer." The Far South Coast branch had 1866 volunteers.

"About 600 are our junior members, Nippers aged 7-14 years. Actively patrolling numbers are around 1200," Mr Edmunds said.

"It is not a huge number, we are probably the smallest branch in terms of membership, but we have the highest number of call-outs compared to Sydney-metropolitan areas. Our little group of members are doing a lot of the work and they just love it."

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