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Deadly jellyfish-like 'Man-of-war' in Irish waters

Dip whiplash affected arms in salt water, Irish Water Safety tells

Image: Lingaraj G J via Flickr/Creative Commons

IRISH WATER SAFETY is warning members of the public that Portuguese man-of-wars have been spotted in several locations off the Irish south coast.

Sightings in Inchydoney, Schull, Ardmore and Tramore prompted the agency to issue the warning, with 16 spotted so far across Waterford and Cork.

“It’s unusual to see them” Roger Sweeney told  “We’ve had a lot of rainfall over the last month which is usually generated by south westernly winds, which has pushed them up here. They usually live about 400 miles south west of us here.”

Puplish-blue in colour with tentacles up to 50m long, the man-of war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.

With their venemous tentacles they catch fish and other marines animals, drifiting on the currents or catching the wind with their gas filled floats. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge. They are most commonly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans and in the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream.

“If a child is badly stung they could die” said Sweeney.

There have been fatalities in the past. If stung, you need to plunge the affected area back into saltwater and pull the sting out with whatever you can. Don’t use fresh water as this will aggravate it. When you get back to your hotel or home, use as much hot water as you can bare and try to wash out anything that remains. No salt water is needed at this stage.

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