Thousands of stinger jellyfish cover Achill beach

Posted in Connect on August 24, 2017.

The remnants of Hurricane Gert brought some unwelcome visitors to Achill with an infestation of stinging jellyfish washing ashore on Keel beach.
Tens of thousands of small jellyfish have covered the sand on the popular Blue Flag beach in the last number of days with onshore winds from the tail-end of Hurricane Gert washing them ashore.
The Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish which is also known as the ‘mauve stinger’ has been coming ashore in the last number of days but thousands of them appeared on the beach over the last two days.
The jellyfish can sting and people walking the beach have been advised to wear footwear as there is no way of avoiding them on the beach.
Tomás McLoughlin of Surf Le Tomás Surf School located on Keel beach told The Mayo News that there are also a number of jellyfish in the water and he had to close this morning (Tuesday) as there were too many.
“They can sting and over the last few days I have heard that they have stung people who were in the water. It is not a severe sting, it would be like getting stung by a nettle but it isn’t nice. There was just too many of them on the beach and in the water this morning so unfortunately we won’t be bringing people out today,” he said.
The mauve stinger is found in European waters mostly in the Mediterranean Sea but they have become a common sight around the west coast of Ireland in recent years. Unusually warm sea temperatures are understood to be the reason why the jellyfish is becoming more common in Irish waters.
While Tomás said it is not usual to see the mauve stinger come ashore, he has never seen them in such numbers.
“They did come ashore last week but they were quickly taken away by an off shore wind. They started to come back in the last number of days but I have never seen them come ashore in such a scale. There are literally millions of them and there is no avoiding them. Hopefully we will get another off shore wind and wash them back out to sea. They are a visitor which we don’t want to see coming to Achill too often.”
The mauve stinger is not the only jellyfish to appear along the Achill shoreline this year. In July, a lions mane jellyfish with tentacles measuring over 35 metres long was washed ashore.
Earlier this month there were reports that swimmers off Valentia Island in Co Kerry had to be assisted after coming engulfed by a swarm of mauve stingers. Last year thousands of the jellyfish came ashore at Fanore in Co Clare and in 2007, a 100,000-fish salmon farm in Northern Ireland, was wiped out by the jellyfish causing around £1million worth of damage.

Anton McNulty – Mayo News, 22nd August 2017

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