If you find a Portuguese man o’ war in North Devon, look but don’t touch and report the sighting

The Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish WoodlandThe Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish Woodland

Several feared Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish have been found on North Devon beaches this week.

On Wednesday Jason Barrow photographed this one at westward Ho! and another was spotted at The Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe by mother and son Kate and Hamish Woodland.

Hamish, who is a student of marine biology at Southampton University, said the man o’ war was one of the most dangerous jellyfish worldwide, its tentacles causing an incredibly painful sting to humans, though fatalities are very rare.

He said they are technically not jellyfish but in fact ‘siphonophores’, meaning they are a colony of individual species working together.

The Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish WoodlandThe Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish Woodland

Recent strong winds have blown several of the creatures on to South West beaches, especially North Cornwall.

Hamish said the numbers washed up are far higher than the normal levels.

He said science was unclear on the best option for treatment of stings, though washing with vinegar and hot water may provide some aid, but the best advice was to go to hospital and also alert a lifeguard or someone in authority.

The Marine Conservation Society says if you spot a Portuguese man o’ war then report the sighting immediately, ideally with a picture, to www.mcsuk.org.

The Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish WoodlandThe Portuguese man o' war found by Kate and Hamish Woodland. Picture: Hamish Woodland