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Jellyfish and the Portugese Man of War

Jellyfish and the Portugese Man of War

6th June – Warning in place for the area.

The situation regarding Portuguese man of war sightings, according to the comments received, there have not been as many seen as last year, in fact only 2 cases reported currently in the Valencian community away from Benidorm. However, as we are  at the end of spring, we recommend prudence when entering the waters in the area and keep checking for the Beach flag alerts 

Jellyfish, vary in both harmful and harmless varieties, and are a very common  sight along our local coastlines.

Jellyfish have been around for millions of years, even before dinosaurs lived on the Earth. Pulsing along on our ocean currents, these jelly-like creatures can be found in waters both cold and warm, deep and shallow and along coastlines, too. Some jellyfish are clear, but others are vibrant colours of pink, yellow, blue and purple. They can be bioluminescent, too, which means they produce their own light!

They are normally in swarms, making them easily seen and, in theory at least, easily avoided. Jellyfish are normally to be found between 20 and 40 miles from the coast where the waters are warmer and saltier,  However, Hot summer weather will bring them in much closer to shore, when people are bathing, so sting numbers increase dramatically.

The numbers of jellyfish in any given year are dependent on several factors. A warm, dry winter and spring inland, for example, will normally lead to a high build-up of jellyfish at sea. However, when freshwater river input into the sea is lower due to lack of rain, salinity increases and this allows them to breach the barrier. Other factors include winds and sea currents as jellyfish just drift along in the currents.

The Portuguese man-of-war is very often mistaken for a jellyfish. Not only is it not a jellyfish, it’s not even an “it,” but a “they.” The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.

The man-of-war comprises four separate polyps. It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail. Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores.

The tentacles are the man-of-war’s second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet in length below the surface, although 30 feet is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. But beware—even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can deliver a sting.

Beach safety is very important here in Benidorm and the flags will be clearly flagged if there are Jellyfish or Portuguese Man of War spotted near inland.  All the Beach safety flags HERE

 

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