At least one beach on the Costa Blanca has been shut after a Portuguese Man O War was
found on the shores. Altea banned bathers until the waters could be deemed safe, and the
poisonous species have also been seen on the Levante and Mal Pas beaches in
neighbouring Benidorm, as they were earlier in the month.
Although it looks – and stings – like a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man O'War is in fact a
different species altogether, a marine hydrozoan from the Physaliidae family normally
found in the Pacific, Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, but not normally in the
Mediterranean. Given their very close similarity, the Portuguese Man O'War, or Physalia
Physalis, is often referred to as a 'false jellyfish'.
Its stings are extremely painful and poisonous, and in some very rare cases, have proven
fatal.
As yet, Altea's environmental councillor Bea Nomdedeu says no reports have been
received of members of the public being stung, and the coastguard service has not
mentioned sightings for a day or two.
But the beach remains shut and will stay that way until at least the start of this week, in
case they come back, or longer if they are spotted again.
Lifeguards on the two aforementioned Benidorm beaches worked round the clock for two
days about a fortnight ago clearing up these perilous creatures. They fished out 14 of
them altogether.