Hundreds of venomous Portuguese man o’ war wash up on beaches in Cornwall

Hundreds of dangerous Portuguese man o' war have washed up on beaches on the UK coast.

Mass reports of the "floating terror" have sprung up in Cornwall, with sightings records mainly on the south coast, including at Gyllyngvase Beach and Maenporth Beach at Falmouth, Loe Bar near Porthleven, Hannafore Beach and Porthkidney Beach near St Ives.

On Sunday, about 40 of the species were spotted on Gunwalloe beach on the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall Live reports.

Locals have been warned to stay on high alert.

Portuguese man o' war can be extremely painful if they sting humans, but they are rarely deadly.

The creature's sting is powerful and can cause anaphylactic shock, with young children especially at risk. Some tentacles can grow up to a staggering 165ft.

The most recent sighting was reported yesterday when Rachel Clarke, from Falmouth, counted 14 of the venomous colonies of organisms on Castle Beach in the town.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network issued a warning last week and said the animals were brought in by the wind.

It said in a statement: "We have had numerous reports of Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis) strandings taking place across Cornwall, brought in by the recent winds and weather.

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"These intriguing creatures are NOT jellyfish, but are actually a colony of individual polyps dependent on each other for survival.

"The distinctive purple gas-filled float, the pneumatophore, acts as a sail which helps to float the rest of the colony across the surface of the water. The tentacles can hang down for several meters, secreting digestive juices onto prey which has been caught and immobilised by the debilitating sting delivered from the specialised stinging cells.

"If you do happen to come across any of these fascinating creatures, please make sure you do not touch and only admire from a distance."

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust previously gave some advice on how to treat stings.

It said: "Recommended treatment for man-of-war stings includes immediate removal of the tentacles with tweezers and rubber gloves by washing in saltwater first, but don't rub the area as this makes the sting worse.

"Some find that immersion of the affected areas in warm fresh water for 20 minutes helps, as does the application of an ice pack to the stings, but under no circumstance should vinegar be used on stings from this animal as this can make them worse."

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