Urgent warning to beachgoers as deadly Portuguese Man O' War spotted
Urgent warning to beachgoers as a deadly Portuguese Man O’War is spotted on Dorset shore – as experts warn people ‘look but do NOT touch’
- A Portuguese Man O’War was spotted in Wkye Regis, Dorset, this week
- It has a nasty and painful sting even once it has died, experts say
- Have you seen one in the UK? Send your photos to [email protected]
They’re usually found roaming the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
But beachgoers in Dorset were in for a surprise this week after a Portuguese Man O’War washed up on the shore.
Often mistaken for jellyfish, the Portuguese Man O’War is actually a siphonophore – a colony of tiny zooids all working together as if one animal.
While it’s undeniably stunning to look at, experts have urged beachgoers to steer clear.
‘They have an extremely nasty and painful sting, even once they have died,’ the Dorset Wildlife Trust explained.
They’re usually found roaming the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. But beachgoers in Dorset were in for a surprise this week after a Portuguese Man O’War washed up on the shore
Often mistaken for jellyfish, the Portuguese Man O’War is actually a siphonophore – a colony of tiny zooids all working together as if one animal
READ MORE: Record numbers of jellyfish are flocking to British waters – with a 32% increase in sightings this year
The Dorset Wildlife Trust says it has received multiple reports of sightings this week.
Posting photos to its Facebook page, it explained: ‘We’ve received multiple reports of Portuguese man o’war washing up on beaches along the Dorset coast, like these ones captured by Peter Minter in Wyke Regis.’
The Portuguese Man O’War usually lives in the open ocean, and is rarely seen on UK shores.
However, it can sometimes be blown into UK seas on westerly winds, and washed ashore on the west coast of the UK.
This is usually the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall, but they are increasingly being sighted in West and North Wales, and even as far north as Cumbria.
While the main body usually measures just 11 inches (30cm) long, the tentacles can stretch out as far as 65ft (20 metres).
And it’s these tentacles that can land you in hot water.
‘They are fearsome predators, catching small fish and crustaceans with their long stinging tentacles,’ Dorset Wildlife Trust explained.
The strange creature has a large purple body, with the crest tipped with pink and long blue-purple tentacles
The Portuguese Man O’War usually lives in the open ocean, and is rarely seen on UK shores, but one was spotted in Wyke Regis this week
Jellyfish spotted in the UK this year
‘It’s these tentacles that you need to watch out for too – they can sting long after the animal has died.’
The strange creature has a large purple body, with the crest tipped with pink and long blue-purple tentacles.
They quickly lose their colour after stranding, and can appear translucent with just a tinge of purple.
Several excited people replied to Dorset Wildlife Trust’s post about the sighting.
‘Very interesting, beautiful creatures,’ one user replied, while another compared it to an alien.
Meanwhile, one joked that it looks like a ‘cornish pasty that’s gone to a rave’.
If you spot a Portuguese Man O’War, make sure you report it to your local Wildlife Trust.
The sighting comes shortly after a report revealed an influx of jellyfish to British shores.
The report, by the Marine Conservation Society, shows a whopping 32 per cent increase in jellyfish sightings this year compared to last.
The experts believe the increase in sightings could be related to climate change, with the jellyfish attracted to the warmer waters.
‘Jellyfish populations are highly variable year on year, and depend on several environmental factors that are different each year, such as sea temperatures and storms,’ said Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the Marine Conservation Society.
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