A new alert has been raised on the Costa Blanca coastline around Alicante for the Portuguese man o’ war.
The red flag is flying along the Costa Blanca, in and around the popular resort of Alicante between El Campello and Torrevieja, due to the sudden proliferation of deadly jellyfish.
The highly toxic Portuguese man o’ war, also known as the caravel or floating terror, is haunting Spain’s eastern coastline just as the peak tourism season begins. Their stings are dangerous and painful and can be fatal.
Dozens of kilometres of sandy beaches are now closed after a number of the jellyfish have been sighted and collected, writes El Pais, Spain’s most widely read newspaper.
“We have taken the necessary measures. […] The rescue and first aid teams will be ready at all times,” said Mari Carmen of the Alicante Tourist Board.
Driven by storms
The presence of the creatures in the area is not a new phenomenon, and there was a similar scare in Alicante last spring.
Experts say that their arrival is due to a mass of water from the Atlantic that entered the Mediterranean in March, pushed through the Strait of Gibraltar by storms.
Winds in the ensuing weeks then drove many of the dispersed specimens, never large colonies, towards the mainland.
It is believed that the threat will soon pass, but it means a setback for the start of the summer tourist campaigns on the Costa Blanca. It also unfortunately coincides with the arrival of 6,000 cruise passengers in Alicante on three ships.
Death by drowning
The Portuguese man o’ war has a maximum diameter of 30 centimetres and a pink surface with bluish tones. Any contact with its long tentacles can be dangerous – even if it is on the sand, as its toxicity remains active for at least 24 hours on land.
Children, people with allergies and pets can suffer especially seriously, and deaths by drowning after being stung have been documented.