Portuguese man o’ war on Gran Canaria shore

Over the last month there have been multiple sightings of brightly shimmering sea creatures along some of the shores and beaches of Gran Canaria. The latest sighting was reported to be in La Aldea, on the west coast, where a toxic, if colourful, Portugese Man of War was found on the beach.

Though they have not appeared in any great numbers, there have been several recent sightings, and citizens are being warned and educated about their appearance, to help prevent incidents; because to be stung by one of these pretty little beasties is to discover just how terrifyingly painful it can be when you fail to respect wildlife in the oceans.

A change of wind direction is though to have caused the appearance of the jelly fish that have arrived on the coast of Gran Canaria, but it is still unknown why they might have wound up in Canaries at this time of year, as their presence is more common during summer months.

Because of their appearance they are easily recognizable. Do not touch them if you see one lying on the beach or rocks. Pay attention particularly when at the beach with children.

The Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war, La carabela portuguesa in Spanish (Physalia physalis), also known simply as the man-of-war, blue bottle, or floating terror, It is a marine hydrozoan, of the family Physaliidae; found in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Its venomous tentacles can deliver a very painful (and sometimes fatal) sting.

Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not actully a jellyfish, but instead a siphonophore. Unlike jellyfish, the Man O’ War is not actually a single, multicellular organism, but is instead a colonial organism made up of several highly specialised individual animals called zooids or polyps. These polyps are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are unable to survive independently, and therefore have to work together and function in the same manner as an individual animal. *** Wikipedia

What to do if you get stung :

  • Get out of the water
  • Check for an allergic reaction ( Seek medical assistance if experiencing difficulty breathing, dizziness, heart problems, sweating )
  • Wash the stung area with sea water, NOT fresh water
  • Carefully remove any remaining tentacles from the skin with a towel for example or better yet, rubber cloves
  • Afterwards, soak the area in hot water to ease the pain

The extreme pain from a Portuguese man-of-war sting usually lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Remember, peeing on a stung area is just an urban myth… tested and proven to be ineffective.

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