Saturday 25 November 2017

Rosslare, Curracloe and Wicklow Harbour are jellyfish hotspots as ‘mile-long’ streams of 30kg creatures are spotted in Irish waters

Barrel Jellyfish
Barrel Jellyfish
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Rosslare, Curracloe and Wicklow Harbour are among the jellyfish ‘hot-spots’ cited by an Irish expert in Zoology after footage of hundreds of giant jellyfish was captured off the west coast of England this week.

The swarm of huge Barrel Jellyfish, which can weigh up to 30kg (66lbs), was spotted off the coast of Cornwall as the UK and Ireland continue to experience warmer than average April temperatures.

Despite the fact that Barrel Jellyfish can weigh the same as an average 10-year-old child, the sea creatures are relatively harmless despite their intimidating size.

“Barrel Jellyfish can measure between 30cm and 70cm in diameter and weigh up to 30kg so they are an extremely heavy jellyfish. They aren’t at all dangerous, and if they do sting it is only very mild much like a nettle,” said NUI Galway’s Dr. Tom Doyle.

Irish swimmers are often intimidated by the creatures due to their 6ft long ‘tentacles’ but Dr. Doyle revealed that this is a misconception.

Read more: Watch out for the Lion's Mane!

“It is not true that Barrel Jellyfish have 6ft long tentacles. In fact these are oral arms to help them feed on plankton,” he said.

The Zoology expert revealed that Rosslare Harbour, Wicklow Harbor and Curracloe are particular hot spots when it comes to floods of barrel jellyfish throughout the spring and summer months.

Meanwhile, the Lion’s Mane jellyfish which frequent Irish waters throughout July and August is much more menacing and swimmers in Dublin beaches are particularly at threat.

While the Barrel Jellyfish can be described as “white, large and meaty”, the Lion’s Mane is small, “flat like a pancake” and its sting is much more painful.

The expert also quashed the urban myth that urine is a miracle cure if one happens to be stung by a jellyfish.

“We’re revising our protocol at the moment, but one thing is for sure. Peeing isn’t going to work. The best thing to do if you are stung is to wash it away with salt water and remove all the tentacles you can.”

Read more: North-easterly winds bring washed up jellyfish to Dublin's Dollymount Strand

On the west coast, swimmers are more likely to encounter the common jellyfish which can be identified easily because of its saucer-like appearance and four rings, while water babies in Donegal should watch out for Mauve Stinger jellyfish from August to October which can provide a particularly nasty sting.

Irish waters might be bountiful in jellyfish species, but luckily the world’s most threatening species the Box Jellyfish has yet to be spotted in our oceans.

The creature has a particularly dangerous venom which can be fatal to humans who are misfortunate enough to encounter one.

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