A marine charity is warning people not to touch a jellyfish-like creature that has been washing up on beaches in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has received reports of several Portuguese Men-of-War in the region just weeks after authorities in Ireland warned local beach goers about a spate of recent strandings of the potentially dangerous floating sea creature.
Stings can be exceptionally painful and in extreme cases fatal.
MCS says the Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) are only occasionally reported in UK waters with the last significant UK strandings of the species occurring in 2009 and 2012.
The Portuguese Man-of-War isn’t a jellyfish but is closely related, and consists of a floating colony of hydrozoans – lots of really tiny marine organisms living together and behaving collectively as one animal.
A Cornish pasty-shaped, transparent purple float is visible on the water’s surface whilst the blue, tentacle-like ‘fishing polyps’ that hang below the float can be tens of meters in length.
Read more: Jellyfish spotted off Dorset & Devon coasts
One of the animals was found this weekend at Portheras Cove, near Morvahl by volunteers of the Friends of Portheras Cove environmental group.
Delia Webb from the group says it was found during a beach clean, lying among the plastic debris that had blown in on the high tide: