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Tuesday, 4 August 2009


. Cornwall Wildlife Trust is asking beach goers to look out for the Portuguese Man-of-War, a jellyfish-like creature, after several have washed up on Cornwall’s beaches in the past few days. The creatures can inflict a painful sting, even when they are dead. . “So far, we've had no reports of anyone being affected and we don’t want to stop people from going in the sea for a swim. We just want the public, especially those with small children, to be able to recognise these animals and be aware that they do have a nasty sting”, said Tom Hardy, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Conservation Officer. . The distinctive Portuguese Man-of-War is not a true jellyfish, but a floating colony of closely-related hydrozoans that normally live at the surface of the open ocean. The colony floats from the bottom of an air-filled float, and has many long thin tentacles hanging below that it uses to catch fish. . Tom says, “People should immediately report any sightings of these animals to the RNLI Lifeguards on the beach and avoid touching them. Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network is also keen to hear of any that strand, so that they can plot their appearance around the coast and alert the authorities on beaches with no Lifeguard cover. They can be reached on their Hotline on 0845 201 2626” . Recommended treatment for Man-of-War stings includes immediate removal of any tentacles with tweezers, wearing rubber gloves (do not rub the affected area as this will only spread the sting) and by washing in lots of saltwater first. This can be followed by immersion of the affected areas in warm, fresh water (no warmer than bath temperature) for 20 minutes. Alternative recommendations include the application of an ice pack once the stings have been removed, to help ease inflammation. Under no circumstance should vinegar be used on stings from this animal as this can make them worse. Anyone who is worried about a Portuguese Man-of-War sting should immediately consult a doctor. . Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish are quite rare in our waters, but Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network has had nine reports in the last five days from along the south coast. The onshore winds over the last week will have washed them in from the ocean. It is quite possible that more may wash up on South West beaches as the winds persist. . The Trust recommends that beach-goers speak to the RNLI lifeguards at the beach to find out whether any Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish have been found on that beach in recent days. .

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