DEADLY Portuguese man o’ war have been spotted washing up on British beaches over the Easter weekend.
The Coastguard posted an image of a Portuguese man o’ war in Cornwall
Officials are now urging parents and dog owners to be vigilant as sunseekers flock to beaches today to enjoy the Bank Holiday.
St Austell Coastguard said: “Whilst out on local patrol this morning we have come across a number Portuguese Man of War jelly fish coming ashore.
“Please be careful when on the beach with children or dogs, as the stings can be very nasty.”
It comes as thousands of Brits descended on beaches over the Easter weekend to enjoy the mini heatwave.
The mercury soared to 23C on Good Friday but the temperature is expected to drop today with rain on the way.
The creatures have been spotted on British beaches far earlier this year than the normal September to December period.
In February, an urgent warning was issued to dog walkers after Portuguese Man O’War appeared across shorelines in North Wales.
Portuguese man o’ war – also known as the floating terror – have an extremely powerful sting that on rare occasions can kill.
The sea creatures (Physalia physalis) are not true jellyfish but siphonophores, which are colonies of hydrozoans – lots of tiny marine organisms living together and behaving collectively as one animal.
They get their name from the balloon-like “sail” that floats above the water, which was said to resemble a type of 18th century warship.
Beneath the surface its trailing tentacle-like polyps can stretch 160ft – the length of five London buses – which they use to paralyse prey such as small fish.
The polyps can detach from the body of the man o’war and float for several days while remaining venomous.
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Brushing against one can lead to an agonising and potentially lethal sting.
Stings cause severe pain to humans and leave bright red whip-like welts on the skin for days afterwards.
The venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause symptoms that mimic an allergic reaction – including blocked airways, swollen larynx, cardiac distress and difficulty breathing.
Other symptoms can include fever and shock and those exposed to large numbers of tentacles may need their airways opened if the pain becomes excruciating and lasts for more than three hours.
The stings can kill – especially if the victim goes into anaphylactic shock.
Portuguese man o’ war pack a powerful sting that can be fatal to humans (stock image)