© Joanna Clegg

Latest Portuguese man o' war strandings - biggest for years. Serious stingers can deliver powerful punch and must not be touched.

Date posted: 12 September 2017

Reports of Portuguese man o’ war washing up on beaches over the last week have been steadily incressing. MCS jellyfish expert, Dr Peter Richardson, says this is now the biggest mass Portugugese man o’ war stranding since 2012!

© Joanne Clegg

As well as receiving reports from north Cornwall - Sennen to Port Issac, we are now hearing of strandings around the North Devon coast up to Woolacombe and Saunton. There have also been single specimen sightings on Scilly, and in Pembrokeshire.

Perranporth beach in North Cornwall was temporary closed on Tuesday 12th September as a precaution, due to the number washing up.

These jelly-fish-like animals possess a powerful sting, and should not be touched.

Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis) are only occasionally reported in UK waters, but this is the second consecutive year they have turned up in numbers. Last year, they were spotted in September on beaches in the South West UK, with significant strandings of the species also reported in in 2009 and 2012.

There have been sightings at Newgale in Pembrokeshire, Portmelon and Porthloo on the Isles of Scilly and Gwithian, Pendeen, Porth, Holywell Bay, Polzeath, Hayle and Tolcarne beaches in Cornwall.

The Portuguese Man o’ War isn’t a jellyfish but is closely related, and consists of a floating colony of hydrozoans – several tiny marine organisms living together and behaving collectively as if one animal. A purple float, shaped a little like a Cornish pasty, is visible on the water’s surface whilst blue, tentacle-like ‘fishing polyps’ hang below; these can be tens of metres in length.

“It’s the tentacle-like polyps that can give an agonising and potentially lethal sting,” says Dr Richardson. “Because a stranded Portuguese Man o’ war looks a bit like a deflating purple balloon with blue ribbons attached, children will find it fascinating. So, if you’re visiting west coast beaches in the next few weeks it’s well worth making sure you know what these animals look like and that no one picks them up. The stings can be unbelievably painful and in rare cases, fatal. We’d like people to report any sightings of Portuguese man o’ war to our website so we get a better idea of the extent of the strandings”.

We’d like people to report any sightings of Portuguese man o’ war to our website so we get a better idea of the extent of the strandings.

Actions you can take

  1. Report your wildlife sightings
  2. Download our Jellyfish Guide

Did you know?…

Over 1,000 marine wildlife sightings were reported to MCS last year

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