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Beachgoers warning - Portuguese man-o-war

20 September 2017

Following the identification and removal of a Portuguese man-o-war from St Ouen’s beach, the Department of the Environment is asking beachgoers to keep an eye out for any more that wash up, but not to touch them.

The Portuguese man-o-war is a jellyfish-like marine animal called a siphonophore. Its tentacles can sting people. Officers from the department are working closely with colleagues at Jersey Coastguard to raise awareness of the risk of being stung, and how to deal with stings.

Assistant Director of Environmental Health, Caroline Maffia said ‘Pain from a Portuguese man-o-war sting typically lasts 15 to 20 minutes and you treat it differently to a jellyfish sting.’ She advises

  • if you’re in the sea, get out of the water
  • as soon as possible, rinse the area with vinegar to remove the man-o-war tentacles
  • when you can, immerse the affected area in hot water (as hot as you can handle, without burning the skin), or apply a hot pack for 45 minutes
  • avoid the use of urine, it doesn’t relieve the sting and can make it worse
  • if the pain continues, treat with local anaesthetic gels and other forms of pain relief from a pharmacy
  • dial 999 if someone needs emergency help

Beachgoers should keep an eye out and report any sightings. Please don’t touch the jellyfish-like creatures, even if they're on land – while a sting is highly unlikely to have serious consequences, it can be painful.

For further advice, or to report a sighting, contact Environmental Health on +44 (0) 1534 445808. 

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