Be­ware beached jel­ly­fish

Stockport Express - - Wildlife -

MIL­LIONS of peo­ple are set­tling down in front of the TV to watch Blue Planet.

David At­ten­bor­ough fronts this as­ton­ish­ing show which is tak­ing us to places where we have never been or seen be­fore.

We ap­pear to be look­ing at crea­tures from worlds cre­ated by sci­ence fic­tion film-mak­ers.

It is dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that these are not alien life-forms.

In fact, the ‘Wizard of All Things Wildlife’ did make a point of say­ing that the fact that any­thing can ex­ist in such hos­tile ter­ri­tory could raise our hopes about life on other plan­ets, where great oceans ex­ist.

While Blue Planet has a world­wide au­di­ence, there is al­ways some­thing special go­ing on lo­cally.

This week we have been hear­ing about strand­ings of Por­tuguese man-o-war on our beaches.

These beau­ti­ful jel­ly­fish-like crea­tures have a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion be­cause of their long ten­ta­cles which can give you a nasty st­ing.

Our north west se­nior marine con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Dr Emily Bax­ter said: “They have thou­sands of sting­ing cells – lit­tle cap­sules loaded with tiny barbed har­poons – that de­liver venom to paral­yse and kill their prey (small fish and crus­taceans).

“Though it is rarely fa­tal for hu­mans, their st­ing can pack a painful punch, so look but don’t touch.”

The jel­ly­fish have a bright blue-pur­ple float, shaped like a Cor­nish pasty, which floats on the sea sur­face and blue ten­ta­cles that hang be­low the sur­face, stretch­ing more than 10 me­tres in length.

So, if you are head­ing over to Black­pool and South­port, Emily tells me: “As the num­ber and dis­tri­bu­tion of sight­ings has in­creased since early Septem­ber we could see more wash­ing up in the north west, so keep an eye out next time you are out on the shore.

“Al­though they are beau­ti­ful and fas­ci­nat­ing, it is im­por­tant to en­sure chil­dren and dogs are kept away from any stranded Por­tuguese man-o-war as they can still st­ing even when dead.”

To help us track where they are wash­ing up, tweet us your pic­tures @ Liv­ingSeasNW or re­port your sight­ings to­­ings/

To be­come a mem­ber of the The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Merseyside go to the web­site at www. lanc­ or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­ uk.

Mike Davis

●●Por­tuguese man-o-war

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