Small numbers of jellyfish-like man o’ war found on Co Clare beaches

Parents advised to be cautious of washed up man o’ war stinging children or dogs

Parents have been warned to be wary of children or dogs coming across jellyfish-like Portuguese man o’ war washed up on beaches along Co Clare.

The man o’ war, whose tentacles can cause a painful sting, have been spotted earlier than usual along some beaches on the west coast this year, in popular tourist spots such as Lahinch.

The man o’ war is not a jellyfish but part of a species of siphonophore closely related to jellyfish. They have washed up on Irish shores along the west and southern coasts several times in recent years.

Clare McGrath, Co Clare water safety officer, said the creatures are found on Irish beaches every year. This year the sightings were occurring earlier than usual, she said. “You have a few that get washed in every year… They’re small creatures,” Ms McGrath said.

She said while regular surfers or sea swimmers would be conscious of avoiding the bright blue man o’ war, children or pets on the beach with families might not be. “They can sting two or three days after washing up on the sand,” she told The Irish Times.

The advice if someone does get stung by a man o’ war was to put the affected area in sea water and then later ice it. Suggestions that urine or vinegar should be applied to the affected area were “myths” that did not work, Ms McGrath said.

Instances where people died after being stung were very rare and happened as a result of someone having a severe reaction, she said.

Eileesh Buckley, one of the owners of Lahinch surf shop, said while man o’ war sightings would previously have been “rare” on the shores, they have been more regular in recent years. “They’ve come in a lot earlier than we’ve seen in recent years, we had someone who said they spotted one in May,” Ms Buckley said.

The sightings have been “pretty regular for the last four or five years, before that they would have been a rare occurrence,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times