Portuguese man o' war found washed up on Dorset beaches
Wednesday 4th October 2017
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has received sightings of the Portuguese man o’ war being found washed up on Chesil, Kimmeridge and Charmouth beaches this week.
This follows sightings of the same creatures in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset recently. They are thought to have arrived on the South Coast via the Gulf Stream, due to the strong south westerly winds that have been pounding our coastlines recently, bringing with them an influx of marine wildlife usually found in the open Atlantic Ocean.
Whilst swarms of these beautiful creatures in Dorset are unusual, the Portuguese man o’ war has appeared before. The largest swarm was recorded in August & September 2008, with reports spanning Charmouth to Swanage. A much smaller swarm was recorded the same time the following year and in 2012. Until now, there have been no known Portuguese man o’ war in Dorset. However, each year DWT do frequently record individuals from seven other oceanic jellyfish species in Dorset.
The Portuguese man o’ war is not a true jellyfish, but floating colonies formed by coral-like hydroids living joined together to create venom filled stinging tentacles reaching 10-30m long - perfectly adapted for capturing prey fish. These tentacles hang from a large gas-filled iridescent float capable of angling itself to catch the wind on the seas surface. Records state this float can measure up to 30 cm long and 10 cm wide.
Whilst they can cause a very painful sting, they are rarely serious, and only fatal in a few rare cases.
Marine Conservation Officer, Emma Rance said, “Whilst they have been described as ‘invading’ our beaches, so far, only a handful have actually been sighted in Dorset this Autumn. If you find one, we advise that you do not touch them, as they can sting even when dead. These are fascinating and beautiful creatures and are only seen in very rare cases on our seashores, so Dorset Wildlife Trust is really keen to hear about any sightings in Dorset.”
Seen one? Let us know!
You can let us know of your sightings by emailing or tweeting @DorsetWildlife using #dorsetjellyfish. For more info about Jellyfish sightings click here.
If you are worried you may have been stung, please seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 27,000 members and 44 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve and the Kingcombe Centre, Brownsea Island Nature Reserve, The Fine Foundation Marine Centre and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Anonymous 18, Nov 2017 @ 18:44
they're harmless unless you touch one of its tentacles with bare skin, I trod on 2 at Chesil beach, one squeaked and one popped lol, they were already dead tho
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