Swarms of large, barrel jellyfish have been spotted off the south west coast, with thousands more possibly on the way, which could lead to beach closures. "It's the year of the jelly," said marine conservation scientist Dr Keith Hiscock.
However, if beaches remain open, there will be a risk of jellyfish.
“Swimming in the sea is one of the most enjoyable parts of a coastal holiday and one that should not be avoided simply because of jellyfish in the water,” said Matt Fletcher, from the holiday company Stay in Cornwall.
The most commonly sighted jellyfish in Britain at this time of year is the moon jellyfish, which is small, translucent and has a very mild sting that is not dangerous.
Dr Matthew Witt, a lecturer in natural environment at the University of Exeter’s campus in Cornwall, said: “Jellyfish are an important part of our British wildlife and lead amazing lives - we see them year round, but mostly in summer months and lots around the South West, this is a great place to see marine wildlife.
“But remember - look and don’t touch.” Even dead jellyfish can still sting, so children should be told not to attempt to pick them up from the beach.
If you are stung, the NHS has discredited the old wives tale which holds that urinating on the affected area will help - this can, in fact, make the situation worse. Pouring vinegar on the wound is also not advised.
Instead it recommends applying shaving cream to the infected area which will apparently help prevent the spread of the toxins in the sting.
It also advises taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help ease any pain and swelling. See the NHS website for more details.
“If you do happen to come into contact with a jellyfish, follow these simple instructions and also, please take time to inform the Marine Conservation Society of your sighting, as this information will help us to understand the health of our coastal seas,” Dr Witt added.
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