Portuguese Man o' War found in Cornwall

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First Cornwall had the Great White shark scare, and now bathers are being warned to be on the lookout for potentially deadly Portuguese Man o' War after one was found on a beach near St Ives.

The jellyfish-like marine creature was found on Porthmeor beach near St Ives earlier this week by a member of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Although often considered a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man o' War (Physalia physalis) is actually a siphonophore and a member of the Class Hydrozoa and not a true jellyfish.

The creature is actually a colony of specialised polyps and medusoids which live beneath a gas-filled sac called an air bladder.

The air bladder at the top of its body, which is also called a pneumatophore, acts as a sail and helps it move through the ocean using the winds and water currents.

Experts believe that recent weather conditions have seen the creature being washed into UK waters and warn that others could also be washed up.

Joana Doyle of the Marine Conservation Society told the BBC: "There is no need to panic about the arrival of this one animal. But beach users, especially those with families, really should be aware that these animals can present a serious threat and should report any sightings of them to the CWT Marine Strandings Hotline (0845 201 2626)."

According to the report, six Portuguese Man o' War have washed up on British beaches in the past few years.

The species has been responsible for several deaths around the world, but stings are not usually fatal. The sting is said to be excrutiatingly painful.

Those unfortunate enough to be stung should submerge the wound in hot water (45 degrees C) and seek medical attention.

The beach at which the creature was found is the same one at which a large predatory shark was filmed attacking a shoal of dolphins, sparking a media frenzy that Great White sharks had arrived in UK waters.