Warning as Portuguese Man O’War creature with 'nasty sting' spotted off Dorset coast

Credit: Twitter/Dorset Wildlife Trust

Beachgoers are being warned not to touch the jellyfish-like creatures known as Portuguese Man O’War which have been washing up on beaches around the South West.

According to the Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT), a number of sightings have been reported of the creatures, which are a siphonophore - a colony of tiny zooids working together to form one animal - and often mistaken as a jellyfish.

Pictures shared by the charity based in Dorchester show the Man O'War spotted at Wyke Regis in Weymouth in recent weeks. It prompted an 'urgent' warning to avoid contact with the creatures.

Man O'War have what has been described as an "extremely nasty and painful sting" which can still be inflicted on others even if they are dead.

The animals are described as "fearsome predators" who use their long tentacles - which can grow up to 20cm - to catch their prey.

In a Facebook post showing some of the animals that had washed up on Dorset's beaches, DWT said: "We've received multiple reports of Portuguese Man O'War washing up on beaches along the Dorset coast.

"Look but do not touch! They have an extremely nasty and painful sting, even once they have died", the post read.