Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 17:34 UK

Alert over Portuguese man-of-war

Portuguese man-of-war (Pic: Jessica Manford)
A Portuguese man-of-war's habitat is normally deep in tropical waters

Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish have been found in Devon and Cornwall.

Two of the creatures, which can deliver a potentially dangerous sting, were found in estuary between Bantham and Bigbury in Devon.

On Monday evening at least eight were discovered on Tregantle beach in Cornwall.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it is the third consecutive year the creatures have washed ashore, probably because of strong winds.

MCS spokesman Richard Harrington said until 2007, it was a rare occurrence for a man-of-war to wash up on South West shores.

The creature is not a true jellyfish, but a siphonophore - a single animal made up of a colony of organisms, which normally lives far out in the ocean.

So named because its airbag can look like the sail of 16th century Portuguese warship.
Airbag is about 30cm (12ins) long, 12.7cm (5ins) wide and acts as sail.
Sting is extremely painful and in rare circumstances can be fatal.
Normal habitats are warm seas off Florida Keys, Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, Indian Ocean, Caribbean and Pacific.

Jessica Manford, 26, from Plymouth was on Tregantle beach on Monday evening when she spotted the first man-of-war.

She told BBC News: "It had washed up in the seaweed, so I started looking a spotted more and more of them before the light started going.

"There were at least eight varying in size from teeny-weeny to about 6ins (15cm) across."

The two in Devon were about 4ins (10cm).

The MCS said people should not touch the creatures.

Mr Harrington said: "If you do get stung, don't panic, but seek urgent medical advice."


The Portuguese man-of-war can deliver a painful, and potentially dangerous, sting

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