Over 200 Reasons to be Careful

Thursday, April 12, 2018
By Martin Myall

COS Portuguese man-o-warThere have been over 200 Portuguese men’o’war sightings on the Costa Tropical; some just off the beach, others washed up on them.

What experts want to convey, however, is despite their fearsome reputation, the sting is not fatal – bloody painful, but not fatal.

Another thing is, their tentacles, even when detached, can still deliver a sting, so no playing football with them in your flip-flops.

One of the experts in question is Karen Kienberger, who has a masters’ degree in oceanography from the UCA and is doing a doctorate on jellyfish along our coastline and has been collecting data on their presence, between Cerro Gordo and Calahonda since February.

Another expert is Laura Prieto, who is a distinguished researcher at the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, who is on first name terms with pretty much every Portuguese man’o’war in the area… She has been tracking how these creatures are brought in by ocean currents to the Mediterranean via the Gibraltar Straits.

One of the reported sightings that was sent into the facebook account that Karen Kienberger runs was an incident involving a young woman whose dog had been stung on Playa San Cristóbal in Almuñécar.

Although the sting is not fatal, if you bump into one whilst out swimming, the neurogenic shock could possibly cause you to drown. In the sea, however, they are relatively easy to spot because they have a kind of dorsal sail.

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The good thing is that this is the time of year that they appear, when only lunatics bathe in the sea – our apologies to our Nordic readers… In the summer it would be very unusual to come across one as they don’t breed in the Med so once they’re here, they die off within months.

There have been years where there were greater numbers; 2010 was one of them, when 100,000 of them were logged in two weeks. However, in the last five years there have been no sightings until now; hence this warning. It’s the Westerly (poniente) gales that bring them in.

So, what to do? If you’re in the water, don’t approach to get a better look because their tentacle can be up to 10 metres long. Secondly, if you get stung, get the hell out of the water so that if you do black out, you won’t drown at least.

And lastly, don’t touch the sting area as the tentacles, which tend to wrap around you, will deliver more stings.

(News: Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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