Many readers will be wondering why some of their favorite beaches have been closed these last couple of days in the Alicante region. This is due to the Portuguese man o’ war, also known as Floating Terror. There have been reports of the jellyfish all over the coasts of the Costa Blanca and several beaches have been shut down due to this. A young child aged 11 was hospitalized after being stung by a Man O’ War, luckily the life guards removed the tentacles from the child’s arm and he was taken to Elche hospital where he was cared for and discharged a few hours later.
What is a Portuguese Man o’ War Jellyfish?
Well, the truth is they aren’t actually jellyfish at all, but rather something called a “Siphonophore” which is actually a colony of organisms called “Zooids” which work together to create the man O’ war which resembles a jellyfish. They’re tentacles pack a powerful venomous punch that kill fish and in some rare circumstances humans too. The individual organisms have to integrate themselves with the other individual components to survive. The Man O’ War can not actually move itself but it completely dependent on the wind & sea currents to get around. They consist of a gas filled bladder that floats on the surface of the water with venomous tentacles dangling beneath them.
Why The Panic?
Finding one of these on a beach usually means more will follow soon as they are often in groups and as they are propelled entirely by their circumstances. Sometimes the Man O’ War can find itself beached, this does not mean that they are no longer dangerous, the venom in the tentacles remains potent for weeks or sometimes months in the right conditions when beaches, meaning stepping on one could still be a painful affair. Beaches are being closed to avoid any injuries caused by these creatures seeing as many people & tourists mistake them for far less threatening jellyfish. They have been spotted as far up as Benidorm.
Man O’ War Survival Guide
Despite the council’s best efforts to close beaches and deal with the situation, you might still run into a Man O’ War whilst enjoying your time at the beach, if you see one, we recommend the following:
- Do not touch the Man O’ War – Stay away from it and definitely do not try to swim under them but rather try to swim round them
- Report it to the lifeguards immediately and pay attention to their advice, even if you haven’t been stung it’s important to take their advice seriously
- If you have been stung the lifeguards are still your best bet, waste no time in reaching them, they can immediately address the situation and call authorities if needed
- Do NOT urinate on the sting! This is false information and will not help, it could even make the sting more painful, but it’ll definitely be a waste of time and make you smell unpleasant.