Hot weather brings jellyfish plague to UK beaches

The UK’s recent heat wave has resulted in the arrival of large numbers of jellyfish around some parts of the coast that are popular with holidaymakers.

Warm waters around parts of Devon, Cornwall and the northwest might look appealing to holidaymakers, but they risk a higher than normal possibility of being stung by the floating legions of Medusozoa that are currently besieging the shores.

The Lion’s Mane jellyfish packs the most potent sting of the common species that have been spotted in British waters, and they can grow to be several feet wide. Visitors to the coastal areas of north Wales and Lancashire are most likely to encounter the species; they have been advised not to touch any that they find washed up on to the beach and to avoid going in to the sea. The results of an encounter with the creature’s toxic tentacles are blisters, painful red welts and, in extreme cases, a heart attack.

The blue jellyfish is the species that is most prolific at the moment, and its armoury will produce a nettle-like sting that can induce anaphylactic shock in victims that are allergic. Fortunately, to date only one Portugese Man of War has been sighted in British waters, a notorious species with a sting that can be deadly.

Dr Peter Richardson, biodiversity programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), was reported in the Daily Mail, saying: ‘The scarcity of jellyfish reports before June was unusual and could well be linked to the exceptionally cold spring.

‘However, as our waters warmed, sightings of jellyfish increased drastically. Certainly on the northwest coast – Liverpool bay up to Blackpool – and the north coast of Wales, there have a raft of sightings Lion’s Mane jellyfish. For visitors to the British seaside, apart from the Portuguese Man of War, it is the one that has the most powerful sting. ‘They can be quite nasty and are definitely ones to avoid, although we are not aware of any fatalities.But some people report it is like being struck by an electric shock, while others can go into anaphylactic shock.

‘There has also been plentiful reports of compass and blue jellyfish in the South West. Although their sting is mild, families should still be on the lookout.’

The MCS would like the public to report jellyfish sightings by using a form on its website.