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Bathers told to cover up as UK beaches hit by record number of 'deadly' Portuguese man o' war

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 04/10/2017 By Nick Stewart
 

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Dangerous Portuguese men o' war "jellyfish" wash up in UK (Provided by Newsflare All Videos)

Beaches across the South coast are being invaded by the biggest concentration of deadly jellyfish in 15 years following hurricanes and extreme weather conditions.

Swimmers off the South coast are being advised to wear full body suits to protect themselves, while parents taking children to the beach have been warned to exercise "extreme caution".

The largest concentration of Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish since 2003 are washing up on UK shores, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

The fish, which have tentacles which can deliver painful and even fatal stings, appear like deflated balloons on sand and in shallow water. 

Portuguese man-of-war, usually found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, have purple tentacles which can reach up to fifty meters below the ocean's surface.  

This year the number reported by members of the public since early September are in excess of 2000, eclipsing the annual average which ranges from 1000 to 1500.

Exceptionally large numbers of the fish were also seen in 2009 and 2012. 

© Press Association Pockets numbering in their hundreds were reported initially on beaches across Cornwall with further instances in Dorset, Devon and Wales and sightings still occurring regularly as far east as Milford-on-Sea in Hampshire.

Dr. Richardson, an expert at the MSC, said: "The last really big sighting was in 2012. They spread further in 2012 but we have greater numbers this time" 

"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." 

Jellyfish are open ocean creatures and as such, very difficult to study or monitor.

Dr. Richardson recommended that surfers wear full body wet-suits to protect them from extremely painful and in rare cases fatal stings. 

Dr. Richardson also recommended extreme caution where children are concerned as a beached man-of-war can have the appearance of a deflated balloon on account of their gas-filled bladder, sometimes referred to as the "sail" which enables them to float and drift with the current. 

Should a sting occur, the NHS recommends carefully removing any remaining tentacles from the skin, thoroughly rinsing the affected area with sea water and afterwards soaking in hot water to ease pain.

If the symptoms become more severe or a sensitive area of the body has been stung, medical help should be sought immediately. 

Research by scientists at NUI Galway and the University of Hawaii-Manoa revealed that the application of vinegar followed by warm water to a sting was potentially the most effective form of treatment.

The MCS encourages members of the public to continue reporting any sightings via their website  www.mcsuk.org

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