The Daily Express headline “Canary islands face toxic jellyfish alert – Excruciatingly painful!” is the latest example of the British press trying to inflate a fairly dull alert into a major panic.
In fact, one beach on the Canaries faces a jellyfish alert. That beach is Famara, where a significant number of Portuguese Men o’ War have been detected. Warning flags have been put up, but as bathing is permanently prohibited on the beach by a Red Flag, it’s only surfers and body boarders who’ll really need to worry.
Sailing jellyfish are often seen on Lanzarote’s north coast, but are hardly ever found on the sheltered south coast beaches in the resorts. There, the biggest jellyfish risk is the occasional plague of mauve stinger jellyfish, which occurs every three or four years. Regular swimmers haven’t reported seeing any since before the lockdown.
None of the jellyfish found off Lanzarote’s coasts are fatal, but we can confirm from bitter personal experience that bumping into a mauve stinger is, indeed, excruciatingly painful.
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