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Venomous five feet long Lion’s Mane jellyfish washes ashore

Sheetal Sukhija - Thursday 12th July, 2018

GALWAY, Ireland - After sending five people to the hospital, the venomous new breed of jellyfish, called the Lion’s Mane jellyfish has been spotted on the Galway beach.

For weeks now, authorities in different parts of the country have been issuing serious warnings to beachgoers about sightings of these particularly venomous creatures that are said to be the largest species of jellyfish in the world.

Not only are their stings particularly venomous, but are extremely painful.

Experts have warned the Lion’s Mane, a name it gets due to the hundreds of long hair-like tentacles it has, can reach a diameter of up to 7 feet.

Adding that the tentacles are capable of inflicting bathers with very severe stings, causing nausea, vomiting and respiratory distress.

One of the many of these venomous jellyfish, washed ashore on the Galway beach last week, giving beachgoers a shock as the eerie creature was said to be over five feet in diameter.

Spotted on Traught beach last week, the sea creature has stung five people already, who have been rushed to the hospital due to the deadly pain inflicted by the sting.

The jellyfish was thought to have taken back out to the sea by the rising tide as it was still alive even when it washed ashore and remained there for a long while.

Local reports quoted a local beachgoer, Pauric Collins as saying that he was walking his boxer dog Duke on the beach last Thursday when he came upon the giant eerie creature.

Collins reportedly said, “There were loads of jellyfish on the beach. There were regular jellyfish, the ones that can be just a few inches in diameter, I saw a few of the Lion’s Mane and then I came across this big one. I took a picture but the picture meant nothing without something beside it, so that’s when I took Duke [his boxer bog] off the lead and put him beside the jellyfish. Duke is not a small animal, he’s about four and a half stone, and the jellyfish was roughly five feet in diameter.”

Since last month, at least three people have been hospitalized after being stung by a Lion’s Mane jellyfish in Co Galway and Co Clare and sightings of the creature at beaches in these counties continues.

Earlier this month, Irish Water Safety issued a warning against the venomous new breed of jellyfish spotted in Wexford.

A week later, the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council issued a similar warning for people in Sandycove.

On Friday, due to increasing number of sightings, the Clare County Council was forced to close the White Strand Beach in Miltown Malbay for a short while.

A spokesperson for the Clare County Council said, “White Strand was closed Friday evening from 5.30pm to 6.15pm due to the presence of Lion’s Mane jellyfish. A red flag was erected at the beach signifying the presence of jellyfish. This restriction was lifted after 45 minutes.”

Marine researchers also appealed to people to report any sightings of the jellyfish off the Irish coast.

According to research published by NUI Galway and UCC, the best way to treat stings is to rinse with vinegar and apply a heat pack for 40 minutes.

Dr Tom Doyle, a marine biologist and lecturer in zoology at University College Cork was quoted as saying that the jellyfish are much larger than usual this year. 

Dr Doyle pointed out, “It is not correct to say this is the first time they have been spotted on the west coast, as we had reports for the last two years, but they are particularly large and mature. They normally prefer the Irish Sea as it is cooler, and the hotspots are the Forty Foot in south Dublin, and popular swimming places like Bettystown, Co Meath and Clogherhead, Co Louth, and right around to Donegal.”

Authorities have warned that there is an increased risk during spring tides. 

Further, swimmers have been advised to wear wetsuits if possible and to apply vaseline to their hands and feet to protect them from the painful stings.

According to Jasmine Headlam, PhD Researcher from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, “Lion’s mane stings, though not generally considered fatal, can cause a lot of pain. Stings from large lion’s mane can be particularly dangerous, as the thousands of thin tentacles can each extend to several meters long. Initially, a sting may result in itching or localised pain that may radiate to other areas of the body, potentially progressing to severe pain within 20 minutes or more. In some cases, stings can result in Irukandji-like syndrome. This syndrome, named after a type of box jellyfish, can involve symptoms including back pain, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating and hypertension.”

So far, Forty Foot diving area in Dun Laoghaire and popular beaches like Bettystown, Co. Meath and Clogherhead, Co. Louth have emerged as the hotspots for Lion's Mane jellyfish sightings.

Further, reports noted that recent sightings have been reported in Salthill, Kinvara, Carna and Oranmore in Galway as well as Newquay in Clare and Cork harbour.

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