Warning as potentially deadly Portuguese man o' war washes up on British beach

·2 min read
Isolated Portuguese Man o' War at sunrise on Pompano Beach
Portuguese man o’ war have been spotted on a British beach. (Getty)

Authorities have issued a warning over a potentially deadly creature that has washed up on a UK beach.

RNLI West Kirby Lifeboat told visitors at Caldy Beach, in Wirral, to stay away from any Portuguese man o’ war they came across.

The creatures, which are often mistaken for jellyfish, have a painful sting that in rare cases causes death.

The lifeboat service charity tweeted: “This was found today on Caldy Beach. It is a Portuguese man o 'war.

“If you see one, DO NOT TOUCH, they give a nasty sting, even when dead.”

Watch: Moment Portuguese man o' wars wash up on UK beach

While the creatures may die after being washed up, their tentacles can still sting and sightings of them can cause beaches to close as a precaution.

The tentacles of the creatures, also nicknamed the Floating Terror, are usually around 30ft, but can grow to up to 160ft long.

Their sting usually subsides after three hours but the venom can travel to the lymph nodes, causing breathing difficulties, fever and shock – and even death.

RNLI West Kirby Lifeboat advised people to seek a lifeguard or someone with first aid training if they were stung.

If help is not available it says you should rinse the affected area with seawater (not fresh water) and remove any spines from the skin using tweezers or the edge of a bank card.

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The lifeboat service advises people to soak the affected area in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated) for at least 30 minutes or use hot flannels or towels instead.

It also suggests you take painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Caldy Beach is located on the Wirral side of the River Dee estuary, North West England
The Portuguese man o’ war were seen on Caldy Beach, Wirral, Birkenhead. (Getty)

Portuguese man o’war is a colonial hydrozoan, made up of tiny individual animals called zooids which can’t live separately.

They are unable to swim, meaning stormy weather in the autumn months often means they end up on the beaches of Britain.

Despite their deadly reputation, the odds of being killed by a Portuguese man o’war are slim – the most recent notable case was in 2010 when swimmer Maria Furcas, 69, suffered a fatal allergic reaction to being stung near Cagliari, Sardinia.

Watch: What a Portuguese man o’war invading a beach looks like

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