Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 06:59 UK

Jellyfish swarms flourish in heat

The waters of the estuary in Dumfries and Galloway were full of a swarm of purple jellyfish at the weekend. Picture by Brian McMillan.

Marine experts have blamed hot summer weather for large numbers of jellyfish appearing in waters around Scotland.

It follows sightings of big swarms across the country - including the Fleet estuary in Dumfries and Galloway.

Marine Scotland said it had received several reports of significant numbers of the common moon jellyfish.

It said the settled, warm weather provided ideal growing conditions and the jellyfish could be seen as a sign the seas were "healthy and productive".

John McConchie, of Mossyard Caravan Park, said the jellyfish had appeared suddenly at the weekend in south west Scotland.

"Just all of a sudden there seemed to be hundreds of them," he said.

They are a nuisance when in large swarms like this but there is nothing much that can be done to stop them
Steve Hay
Marine Scotland

"There were just little jellyfish everywhere you looked - they were in the water and on the beach."

Brian McMillan, who was visiting the area from Glasgow, also witnessed their sudden spread.

"It is impossible to move in the sea without picking them up in canoe paddles or engine intakes," he said.

"Swimming is impossible as there is not a patch of sea that does not have this sort of quantity of jellyfish.

"The beaches are littered with the bodies of dead ones that have been washed up."

However, Steve Hay of Marine Scotland said it was not unusual to see large swarms of the jellyfish during July and August.

"We have had a number of reports of these jellyfish appearing in quite large numbers this year," he said.

He said that the hot and settled weather had provide good growing conditions for the sea creatures.

'Huge numbers'

"They are a nuisance when in large swarms like this but there is nothing much that can be done to stop them," he said.

"In some respects it is a sign that the seas are healthy and productive."

He added that as the summer wore on the adult jellyfish would "die off and decompose".

"As they die off they can be swept around and ashore in huge numbers," said Mr Hay.

He stressed that their sting could only penetrate very soft tissue.

"However, there are a very few people who are very sensitive to jellyfish stings," he said.

"If any allergic reaction is shown they should avoid exposure and a strong reaction should be referred to a doctor immediately."

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