Venomous Portuguese Man-O-War wash up on Cornwall beaches

22 October 2019, 18:31

By Andy Ballantyne

Dozens of animals resembling jellyfish that inflict excruciating stings have washed up on beaches in North Cornwall, sparking concern for half-term holidaymakers.

The on-shore winds are bringing these creatures ashore in large numbers, and they are still capable of stinging even when stranded.

Surfers, swimmers and paddlers have been made aware of the issue, and children and dogs have especially been warned not to touch them.

Portuguese Man-O-War are often washed up during stormy weather and when there are high winds. They are responsible for up to 10,000 human stings in Australia each summer.

A Portuguese Man-O-War which has washed up
A Portuguese Man-O-War which has washed up. Picture: Friends of Portheras Cove

Their stinging tentacles are thin and blue and very hard to spot in the water if you're swimming or surfing. Once they have made contact with skin, the nematocysts deliver a toxic chemical cocktail into their victims.

The effects of this venom can range from mild to life-threatening, but typically include immediate pain that can last for15 to 20 minutes.

In more severe cases, a sting can trigger chest pain, difficulty breathing, and even death.

The species have been spotted on a Cornwall beach
The species have been spotted on a Cornwall beach. Picture: Global's Newsroom

The Friends of Portheras Cove has reiterated warnings that have been put out in recent weeks due to an increase number of the creatures across the region.

At one stage 63 of them were found on the beach on the north coast near Pendeen.

There is particular concern that more children and pets will be on the beach as half-term has begun.

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