'Avoid like the plague' - killer jellyfish washed ashore in Kerry
Published 10/10/2011 | 05:00
A LETHAL jellyfish has been found washed ashore on a beach, sparking a public warning from fisheries experts to avoid it "like the plague".
The Portuguese Man of War was washed ashore on Wine Strand in Smerwick Harbour, west of Dingle, Co Kerry, on Friday night.
The beautifully coloured jellyfish may be attractive to look at but the poison in its tentacles is enough to kill its prey and can also kill humans.
Fisheries protection officer Kevin Flannery, based in Dingle, said they were normally found in tropical southerly seas but the prevailing southerly winds could sometimes carry them to northern Europe.
"They're a beautiful colour, all the colours of the rainbow, but the beauty comes with a price," Mr Flannery told the Irish Independent.
"I would advise members of the public, please, please do not touch them," he stressed. "They will sting, they will burn and they are lethal."
According to the fisheries expert, the Portuguese Man of War's tentacles can stretch out up to 30 metres to touch its prey. It then releases a venom that kills.
"They're fascinating creatures to watch. They can inflate themselves in the water so they move faster with the wind," he added.
"The southerly winds from Africa we've been experiencing lately brought this one ashore. It has happened before and you do get the odd one that makes its way on to Irish beaches."
Mr Flannery explained that the Portuguese Man of War is a living colony of minute organisms and can reproduce within itself. Its name is borrowed from the man-of-war, a 16th-Century English armed sailing ship, which was based on an earlier Portuguese vessel.
There may be others out in the ocean but so far only one has come ashore. However, local fishermen say they have spotted the tropical jellyfish in the water and that they're not an unusual sight at this time of year.
"Luckily, there aren't too many people swimming at this time of year, but to any member of the public, I would advise them to avoid it like the plague," he said.
The Man of War is now at the Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle where it is being kept in isolation. Staff have learnt from past experience -- the last time one was kept at the facility it was put on display but killed all the other fish in the tank.