Jellyfish alert on Marina Alta beaches

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Mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca), the most common jellyfish in the Med sea.

JELLYFISH have already been seen off the Marina Alta towns’ beaches due to the high winter temperatures and recent mild weather combined with the rougher sea state.

Fortunately, the small blue creatures are unlikely to sting or cause irritation although caution is still advised. While this would normally be a rare occurrence this early in the year, jellyfish were also appearing in large numbers in both Denia and Javea last May.

Of course, some species of jellyfish can be extremely dangerous, the best known probably being the Portuguese man-of-war (there’s probably a clue in the name). These animals are not in fact jellyfish, although they are often mistaken as such. It is a siphonophore, which differs from a jellyfish in that it is not a singular organism, but a colony of organisms that group together, and can not survive individually. However these are not native to the Mediterranean and appearances here are very rare. Although there were a number of man o’ war swarms in 2010, the scientific consensus is that this was a one-off episode caused by unusual weather and sea conditions over the previous winter.

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During the summer local beaches should display bathing warning signs if jellyfish are inshore. The standard layout for these is a picture of two jellyfish on a different colour background depending on the colour of the jellyfish sighted.

The Spanish for jellyfish is ‘medusa’ if you just have a written warning which may happen on some of the smaller beaches.

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