Tuesday 24 January 2017

Warning issued as potentially lethal Portuguese Man of War jellyfish wash up along Wild Atlantic Way

Published 26/09/2016 | 13:48

Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish pictured in Kincasslagh Harbour today. Photo via Facebook: Kincasslagh Harbour
Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish pictured in Kincasslagh Harbour today. Photo via Facebook: Kincasslagh Harbour

Irish surfers and swimmers on Ireland’s west coast have been warned about the “unprecedented” number of potentially deadly jellyfish which have washed up on shores along the west coast.

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More than 20 Portuguese Man of War jellyfish were discovered on Keem Beach in Achill in recent days and have also washed up in Donegal’s Kincasslagh Harbour.

The creatures are said to inflict the most severe sting of all jellyfish, which can prove fatal to people who are allergic to their venom.

John Leech of Irish Water Safety said: “In the last 16 years I’ve been working with Irish Water Safety I’ve never seen so many sightings of the Portuguese Man of War. Twenty of the creatures washed up in Keel Beach in Achill this week, which is unprecedented.

“I’ve never heard of a sighting of one as far North as Donegal. They would be more likely to be spotted in Cork and Kerry, our most southern counties. The creatures’ stings are said to be more painful or on the same par as the Lion’s Mane jellyfish and can send those who are allergic into anaphylactic shock. If you are stung and have a reaction, medical treatment should be sought immediately in A&E.”

The Portuguese Man of War is not actually a jellyfish but a relative and lurks on the water’s surface. It is identified by its silvery/blue appearance and red and pink tingeing.

Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish pictured in Kincasslagh Harbour today. Photo via Facebook: Kincasslagh Harbour
Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish pictured in Kincasslagh Harbour today. Photo via Facebook: Kincasslagh Harbour

Donegal’s Kincasslagh Harbour issued a safety warning earlier today, warning swimmers, surfers and beach goers to beware of the dangerous sea creatures.

A statement on their Facebook page said: “We have had confirmed reports of a number of Portuguese Man of War. These have the appearance of jelly fish but technically are a number of sea animals all attached as a group.

“They have what is considered the most dangerous sting of any sea creature and are dangerous dead or alive. The sting is from the very long tentacles.

“Please do not touch, keep animals away. If stung seek medical attention immediately. Considered a serious risk to people who may suffer Anaphylaxis.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Water Safety spokesperson revealed that peeing on a jellyfish sting is an old wives’ tale and will not alleviate the pain.

“If you get stung, you need to wash it with salt water and remove the tentacles as soon as you can. Place a dry cold pack against it. As with anything, if the pain does not die down or the sting appears particularly bad, seek medical attention and go to A&E,” he said.

Pet owners are also warned to be extra vigilant and are advised to keep their dogs on leads at all times.

Speaking earlier this year, Gillian Bird, Education Officer at the DSPCA said: “People have to keep their pets on leads. It would be our advice to avoid letting your dog swim in the sea anyway, but particularly if there’s a risk they could be stung.

"Like with humans, when a dog gets stung, it’s important to clean the sting with seawater and remove the barbs from the skin as soon as possible.

“The worst thing is to put fresh water on it, but they say vinegar can help take away the sting of it.

“Unfortunately we can’t police the beach and the oceans for jellyfish so our best advice for prevention would to be just keep them on the lead,” she said.

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