“Portuguese galleys”, a kind of potentially deadly jellyfish, have been spotted on coastal beaches in Spain and Portugal. What is the risk involved? Emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens, Dr Gérald Kierzek explains it to us.
Vigilance if you are currently spending your holidays in Spain or Portugal. A surprise guest has decided to invest their beaches: a false “killer” jellyfish better known as the Portuguese galley, which extends its paralyzing and stinging tentacles for several meters. As a precaution, the authorities have closed several beaches.
A “gift” of global warming
The Portuguese galleys, also called physalia or sea bladders, are not really jellyfish, but organisms resembling it. They are recognizable by their atypical appearance: a beautiful blue color and an air-filled sac, measuring up to 15 cm in height, which allows it to float.
But the danger lies in their tentacles, which can extend… up to 30 meters and touch you during a swim, or even on the sand (for stranded specimens). The stings of the animal, poisonous, are particularly painful and could lead to death in some people, according to the authorities.
The Portuguese bring us trouble!
This splendid creature called “Portuguese galley” and also Physalia, worse than a jellyfish, has claimed victims on the Basque coast pic.twitter.com/us46IXonD3
— Annie,🐢🐢🐢 (@Ninipeaudchien4) August 17, 2023
Physalies generally evolve in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but they come dangerously close to our coasts. Their presence could be linked to climate change, with high temperatures and the growth of algae. In recent weeks, alerts have been given in the Landes and in South Finistère.
Call the emergency services in the event of a bite!
Is the presence of physalies reported at your bathing place? It is better not to defy the ban put in place, because the threat is real, as explained to us by Dr. Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens.
“Generally speaking, jellyfish can be dangerous in more ways than one:
- On the one hand, the sting and the pain can be responsible for discomfort in the water. The first instinct is therefore to get out immediately in the event of a bite.
- On the other hand, the envenomation itself, ie the reaction to the venom, can be dangerous. Either you are allergic and therefore susceptible to anaphylactic shock. Either it is the amount of venom that can cause a reaction with general malaise, intense pain, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness… up to cardiac arrest in the most serious cases. If we see that the symptoms quickly take on worrying proportions, we immediately call the emergency services.
However, the doctor reminds us of the right thing to do in the event of a jellyfish or physalia sting, while waiting for help: “We never rinse with fresh water, but with sea water. And eventually, we put sand on the area, and with a small card, such as a bank card, we will scrape the skin to remove the stinging filaments “. As for this stubborn idea of having to urinate on the irritated part, forget it : “It’s no use” confirms our expert.