Giant jellyfish on Kinvara beach

One of Galway’s most popular beaches is the latest to attract an influx of stinging jellyfish – this one in particular dwarfing the owner’s dog.

Pauric Collins was walking his dog, Duke, along Traught Beach in Kinvara last Friday when he spotted lots of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish along the sand – but one in particular caught his eye.

“There were loads of them on the beach,” he said, “but this one must have been about four and a half feet.”

Duke sits beside the Lion’s Mane jellyfish at Traught beach. (Photo: Pauric Collins).

The Blue Flag beach has seen crowds flocking to enjoy the summer sunshine in recent weeks – but the jellyfish would represent unwelcome new arrivals for swimmers in particular.

Lion’s Mane jellyfish are large jellyfish with thousands of long tentacles located beneath the bell.

Experts are urging the public to report any sightings of Lion’s Mane jellyfish as although the sting isn’t considered fatal, a woman who has studied treatment for jellyfish stings in the Zoology Department at NUIG, Jasmine Headlam, confirmed that they can cause severe local reactions and extreme pain.

Pauric Collins himself said a friend of his has a young daughter who was stung by a Lion’s Mane jellyfish on Kinvara beach.

She described it as ten times more painful than breaking her wrist which she had done the previous year – “so that’s the pain from a child’s perspective,” he said.

Researchers at the Ryan Institute in NUIG say that rinsing the stung area with vinegar and immersing the area in hot water for over half an hour is the best way to treat the stings.

Scientists believe the jellyfish have “over-wintered” in Ireland and are here for a second season.

Overwintering is the process by which some organisms pass through or wait out the winter season – where it is cold, ice, snow, limited food supplies and so on – which make normal activity or even survival difficult or near impossible.

If you spot a Lion’s Mane jellyfish, you should report it the local Authority Water Safety Development Officer for Galway City and County, by contacting Shane Coogan at watersaftey@galwaycoco.ie or calling on 091 509000.