Man-o’-war on UK’s shores

An alert was issued by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) yesterday after a Portugese Man-o’-War was washed up on Porthmeor Beach at St Ives, Cornwall.

The Portuguese man-o’-war is not a jellyfish, but a floating colony of animals with long tentacles that catch fish. They can inflict powerful stings.

They are quite rare in British waters, with only six reported sightings since a national jellyfish survey was launched by the MCS in 2003.

“Contact with the tentacles results in agonising stings that leave painful lesions, and a few have resulted in fatalities,” said Peter Richardson, the MCS species policy officer.

“Victims can suffer intense fever and anaphylactic shock. Children in particular are at risk. Beach users should be aware that these animals can present a serious threat.”

The man-o’-war was probably blown in from the ocean by the winds over the weekend, he added.

“There is no need to panic about the arrival of this one creature, but it is possible that more may wash up on beaches in the South West as the winds persist.”