Deadly jellyfish invade British beaches

Portuguese men of war spotted in Cornwall

Updated: 

Jellyfish invading British beaches

An invasion of potentially fatal jellyfish-like creatures on Britain's shores is the biggest ever recorded in the UK.

The Portuguese man-of-war were first spotted in Cornwall and have been seen as far east as Milford-on-Sea in Hampshire.

See also: Jellyfish overload could be result of wind farms

See also: Invasion of giant jellyfish? Huge creature washes up in Devon

The Marine Conservation Society said it had received reports of more than 2,000 of the organisms, which have long purple tentacles.

It amounts to the greatest number of Portuguese man-of-war recorded in the UK since records began in 2003, the MCS said.

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Credits: RNLI

The Portuguese man-of-war were first spotted in Cornwall

Dr Peter Richardson said there had been reports of them in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

"It's the biggest we have ever recorded and they are still coming in," he said.

"The last really big sighting was in 2012.

"They spread further in 2012 but we have had greater numbers this time."

Portuguese-man-of-war invading British beaches

There have been more than 2,000 reports of the creatures

Dr Richardson said being open ocean animals they were very difficult to study, making it hard to tell if there had been a population increase.

He said: "It will be down to a combination of factors [including] the extreme weather we've had with the hurricanes. They are not supposed to be here."

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Portuguese man-of-war have long purple tentacles

The NHS recommends using tweezers or a clean stick, and gloves if possible, to remove man-of-war tentacles.

If symptoms become more severe, or a sensitive part of the body has been stung, you should seek medical help.

Credits: REX/Shutterstock

The creatures are potentially deadly

What is a Portuguese man-of-war?

  • The man-of-war can be tempting to children because it looks like a deflated balloon
  • The (Physalia physalis) is not a jellyfish, but a floating colony of organisms dependent on one another for survival
  • Its gas-filled bladder (sometimes known as the sail), enables it to float on the ocean surface and drift with the current
  • Its sting - delivered from tentacles which can reach up to 50m below the surface - is extremely painful for humans and can be fatal in rare circumstances
  • Hundreds of swimmers are stung every year, especially when huge numbers appear in coastal waters

Britain's amazing sea life

Britain's amazing sea life


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