Swimmers and beach-goers have been urged to be aware of the mammoth Lion’s Mane jellyfish after a number of them were spotted around the Inishowen coastline in recent days.
There have been sightings of the native jellyfish, whose very painful sting can lead to nausea, sweating, cramps, headaches and in very rare cases anaphylactic shock, in areas such as Malin Head, Inch Island, Culdaff, Tremone Bay and Ned’s Point in Buncrana.
The Lion’s Mane jellyfish is distinctive by its huge size and Ireland’s National Biodiversity Centre describes it as having a very distinctive flower shaped bell with eight lobes.
They told how, underneath each lobe are clusters of hundreds of tentacles that can be 3-4 metres long. The Lion’s Mane is typically deep red to brown in colour and can inflict a very painful sting. The Lion’s Mane’s stinging cells are sharper than other species of native jellyfish and can pierce skin easily.
Anyone who sees a Lion’s Mane jellyfish is being asked to report their sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre website at www. biodiversityireland.ie or the Big Jellyfish Hunt Facebook page.
There have been sightings of the jellyfish across the country in recent weeks. It has been reported that at least five people have been hospitalised as a result of being stung, however the sting is not usually life-threatening.
The Health Service Executive advises anyone who gets stung to remove themselves from the water, flush the area with seawater and apply a dry, cold pack to the area.
However, scientists at the Ryan Institute at National University of Ireland, Galway, said the most effective treatment is to rinse stings in vinegar to remove tentacles, before immersing them in 45°C (113°F) hot water - or apply a heat pack - for 40 minutes. Anyone who develops serious symptoms is advised to seek medical attention.
Dog owners are also asked to walk their pets on a leash if on a beach as they are also at risk of being stung.