Holidaymakers are being warned to watch out for jellyfish if they're heading to the beach this summer.
The hot July weather has led to an explosion in jellyfish numbers around the coast, with the worst affected parts of the country being Devon, Cornwall and the north-west coast.
Blooms of Lion's mane jellyfish have been spotted around coasts between Blackpool and Wales. This jellyfish can reach a a size of 2m and has the most powerful sting in British waters, with the exception of the Portuguese man of war — but so far only one of those has been spotted, in Cornwall.
Large numbers of Blue jellies have been reported near shores in the south-west, and although their sting is mild in comparison, it could still cause problems if the person has an allergic reaction.
Experts warn holidaymakers not to touch jellyfish they find on the beach - and to stay out of the water in affected areas.
If you're stung, the British Red Cross recommends against the oft-cited remedy of peeing on the affected area. Joe Mulligan, head of first aid at the British Red Cross, said: "Urine just doesn’t have the right chemical make-up to solve the problem. A better treatment would be to pour seawater or vinegar over the sting.
"If people get stung, they need to get out of the water to avoid getting stung again. Once out, slowly pouring seawater over the sting will help ease the pain. Doing the same thing with vinegar can be even more effective as the acid helps neutralise the jellyfish sting. But unless you’re near a chip shop, seawater will probably be easier to find."
Every summer hundreds of reports of jellyfish sightings are made to the Marine Conservation Society National Jellyfish Survey, which is in its 10th year.
The survey is providing valuable information about where and when jellyfish occur in UK seas amid global reports of a rise in jellyfish numbers.
This year was a relatively quiet one for jellyfish reports until the warm weather kicked in. Dr Peter Richardson of the MCS said: "The scarcity of jellyfish reports before June was unusual and could well be linked to the exceptionally cold spring. However, as our waters warmed, sightings of jellyfish increased, with Moon jellyfish reported in large numbers around the UK, reports of Compass and Blue jellyfish in the south west, and blooms of Lion’s mane jellies around North Wales and North West England.
"As always, we want people to let us know when they spot jellyfish either in the sea or on the beach".
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