Giant Portuguese man o ‘war washed ashore

A giant potential killer, the Portuguese man o 'war. Photo: Ruth Oliver.
A giant potential killer, the Portuguese man o 'war. Photo: Ruth Oliver.

By Andrew Atkinson

A giant Portuguese man o ‘war jellyfish – annually common in the Costas – has been washed ashore in Sandbanks, Dorset!

The man o ‘war jellyfish, which can be extremely dangerous, have been washed up along Dorset’s beaches throughout the summer, and continue to do so.

“I tried to get it back into the water. I’ve never seen such a big jellyfish,” said Ruth Oliver, who saw it whilst walking dog Murphy at Sandbanks, a small peninsula crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour on the English Channel coast.

Ruth, who deemed the jellyfish as 2 metres, added: “It’s the biggest jellyfish I’ve ever seen – the blue colour was beautiful.”

Portuguese man o ‘war is a colony made up of small animals called zooids or polyps, and can cause extreme pain, if touched.

In Spain the Portuguese man o ‘war jellyfish recently spread south from the southern stretch of the La Mata beaches across Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa and Pilar de la Horadada. Councils warned of the danger by raising red flags, prohibiting any bathing or swimming.

In Orihuela Costa, swimming on Cabo Roig, La Caleta beach, was banned,  after two Portuguese caravels were seen, that lead to the Lifeguard service raising the red flag – as an extreme caution.

The Department of Beaches warn to be careful and not to touch the jellyfish. Their sting can be extremely dangerous.

In recent times Pilar de la Horadada also raised the red flag on all municipal beaches, due to the appearance of the jellyfish. The Department of the Environment prohibited bathing – across the whole of its coastline.

Guardamar del Segura have also alert bathers in recent times of the danger. The City Council recorded the invertebrates and monitoring work was intensified on the Guardamarenco coast.

The Portuguese caravel has a more potent toxin, than the Mediterranean species, and its sting is severe, which could lead to being hospitalised.

The tentacles of the Portuguese man o ‘war can be 30 metres long. Children, the elderly and people with heart problems are the most vulnerable to their stings.

The Portuguese man o ‘war can cause death – by anaphylactic shock or a severe allergic reaction.