CLOSE CALL: Joyce Gilroy spent a night at Lismore Base Hospital after being bitten by an unidentified snake while walking along Ballina’s popular Shelley Beach. Jay Cronan
CLOSE CALL: Joyce Gilroy spent a night at Lismore Base Hospital after being bitten by an unidentified snake while walking along Ballina’s popular Shelley Beach. Jay Cronan

Snake-bite on Shelley Beach

A RELAXING walk along Shelley Beach with a friend on Wednesday evening turned into a sea-snake bite drama for 71-year-old Joyce Gilroy, of Ballina.

“There was a lot of foam on the beach,” she said. “And I had managed to avoid it when we first walking along, but I went into it on the way back and that’s when the snake bit me above the little toe.”

Ms Gilroy was rushed to Ballina Hospital and then taken by ambulance to Lismore where she stayed overnight while doctors checked her blood every four hours.

She was sent home the next day.

“I flicked the snake off very quickly,” Mrs Gilroy said. “So I probably didn’t get too much poison.”

Far North Coast Surf Life Saving Emergency Services co-ordinator, Jimmy Keogh said that this was the first report this year of a sea-snake bite.

“If ... the water is dirty and temperatures (are) high then sea-snakes could be about,” he said. “People should stay away from the foam as you don’t know what’s in it.”

WIRES reptile co-ordinator Michael McGrath warned that a sea-snake bite needed to be dealt with immediately.

“Sea-snakes are extremely poisonous,” he said. “They are just as venomous as land snakes and many are quite capable of killing a human.”

Mr McGrath described sea-snakes as non-aggressive and curious reptiles and bites from them are rare.

“Most people who are bitten are on the beach,” he said.

“Usually it’s fishermen who have come across them tangled in netting.

“You usually don’t see them on the beach unless there is something wrong with them.

“Being stranded on the beach means death for them.”

Mr McGrath said to treat a sea -snake bite like any other land-based snake.

“A compression bandage will help restrict the poison’s flow to the lymphatic system,” he said.

“Just apply the same tightness as you would to a sprain to allow the blood to still flow, stay immobilised and get help.”

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