GLOBAL warming is causing swathes of jellyfish to flock to British beaches as warmer seas attract the stinging menaces.

The number of blooms, when jelly fish mass together, are on the rise in coastal waters, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

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It has urged beach-goers to report sightings of the gelatinous creatures to the MCS Jellyfish Survey to warn others of their presence.

Dr Peter Richardson, head of biodiversity and fisheries at the Marine Conservation Society said: “There’s evidence that jellyfish numbers are increasing in some parts of the world, including UK seas.

“Some scientists argue that jellyfish numbers increase and then decrease normally every 20 years or so, however, others believe and these increases are linked to factors such as pollution, over-fishing and possibly climate change.

“The MCS jellyfish survey helps provide some of the information we need to understand more about these ancient creatures.”

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So far, this year has been a relatively quiet one for jellyfish, unlike the last two years when record numbers were recorded throughout spring and early summer.

But tourists heading to Devon and Cornwall should be wary.

Despite having had no confirmed sightings this year, Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish – which have dangerous stings leaving victims in severe pain – were spotted along the South West coast in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and could be set to return.

Mauve stingers, which also have powerful stings, were also spotted across the South West as recently as last year, although usually in the winter.
The annual survey, now in its 14th year, tracks where and when jellyfish occur in UK seas amid global reports of a rise in jellyfish numbers.

Lion’s mane jellyfish have the most powerful and painful sting of the UK species, but are rarely seen south of the Irish Sea or Norfolk, with most reports coming from Scottish waters.

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MCS warns swimmers to stay away from the creatures and report them to lifeguards and the charity’s website.

Dr Richardson added: “We still know relatively little about jellyfish and what drives changes in their numbers, so reporting even a single one can help.”