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Benidorm beaches close after Portuguese man o' war invasion

Beaches in the Costa Blanca and as far as the Orihuela Costa have been closed

Ronan J. O'Shea
Friday 25 May 2018 16:54 BST
Beaches in Benidorm have closed after a number of people were stung by Portuguese Man of War jellyfish
Beaches in Benidorm have closed after a number of people were stung by Portuguese Man of War jellyfish

A number of beaches were closed this week in the seaside resort of Benidorm, Spain, after a swarm of Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish were spotted off the coast.

The creatures carry venomous tentacles which can grow up to 50m, with a sting powerful enough to kill fish and humans, though incidents of the latter are rare.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News, an 11-year-old boy was taken to hospital after being stung at La Marina beach near Elche on the Costa Blanca last weekend.

Miles of coastline have subsequently been closed between Denia and Torrevieja, a nearly 150km stretch which takes in Benidorm and the popular city of Alicante.

The creatures have been reported as far as Orihuela Costa, approximately 92km away from the Costa Blanca.

The local town hall tweeted: “We ask you to be careful because of the presence of Portuguese men o’ war on our coastline. They shouldn’t be touched.

“Two of these creatures have so far appeared in the water at La Caleta beach. The public should be extremely careful because their sting can be very dangerous.”

A local news website also reported that beaches in the Pilar de Horadada area had erected red flags as well as flags with pictures of the animals, warning visitors of the potential dangers of coming into contact with them.

The Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war lives near the surface of the ocean. With no means of propulsion, it is moved by currents, winds and tides, and has been found in distant locations such as Nova Scotia in Canada and the Hebrides in Scotland.

Portuguese man o' war stings are painful but rarely fatal (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The jelly fishes' sting is extremely painful and should be treated with salt water immediately, with fresh water known to cause the creatures' nematocyst (a venomous thread) to discharge.

Last year more than 100 Portuguese man o' war jellyfish were spotted off the coast of Cornwall, leading to concern among locals. However, while potentially deadly, human fatalities following a sting are extremely rare.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Benidorm has become a hugely popular tourist resort in recent generations thanks to low-cost flights and the rise of all-inclusive holiday packages. There have been calls for the town to be recognised as a World Heritage Site for its tourist-driven growth model, though there has been some backlash. Last year, one hotel in the town stopped selling all-inclusive holidays due to the number of what it claimed were false gastric illness claims by British visitors.

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