Public warned over worst Portuguese Man o' War infestation in 100 years

Warning: The stingers remain venomous even after death
Warning: The stingers remain venomous even after death

The Irish Water Safety authority has issued a warning to beach-goers to beware of the deadly poisonous Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish during the worst infestation in one hundred years.

The warm coastal waters over recent months have creating an ideal habitat for the venomous organisms - which are not technically jellyfish but siphonophores;  it is not a single organism, but is a colony made up of specialised individual animals called zooids or polyps.

Increasing numbers have been washing up on Irish beaches this month, with sightings recorded in counties Cork, Kerry, and the entire west coast.

Irish Water Safety reported that 80 landed on Cape Clear Island off the southwest of Co Cork.

A new warning has been issued as the Spring tide caused by the new moon on Saturday will see larger areas of the coast exposed and beach-goers in the south, west and northwest have been warned to avoid them.

The stingers of the Portuguese man o’war remain venomous even after death, and contact with the skin can result in severe repercussions up to and including death.

It also issued the following advice for members of the public who come in contact with one of the creatures:

  • Ensure you don’t get stung yourself when aiding others.
  • Remove any attached tentacles with a gloved hand, stick or towel.
  • Do not rub the affected area, this may result in further venom release.
  • Rinse the affected area with sea-water - do not use fresh water, vinegar or urine.
  • Apply a “dry cold pack” to the area - i.e. place a cold pack or ice inside a plastic bag and then wrap this package in a t-shirt or other piece of cloth.
  • Seek medical attention if there is anything other than minor discomfort. Note the sting can cause anaphylactic shock, if you are feeling unwell go to A&E for treatment.


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