Jellyfish alert subsiding

THE Mayor of West Mersea yesterday assured visitors that a plague of stinging jellyfish was on the way out – and people should not be put off going to the island.

THE Mayor of West Mersea yesterday assured visitors that a plague of stinging jellyfish was on the way out – and people should not be put off going to the island.

Douglas Stoker, also water bailiff for the town, said he had never seen so many of the blue/mauve marine animals washing up on local beaches as in recent weeks.

The creatures – the largest of which are about six inches across – can cause a nasty rash on soft skin and give anyone touching their tentacles a nettle-like sting.

But yesterday Mr Stoker said there were far fewer of them now than in preceding weeks and that they were likely to disappear in the coming days.

"If you are swimming and run into them it could be very unpleasant I should imagine, although not life-threatening," he said.

"Also, if you're pulling in an anchor and the tentacles have been touching the rope, what is left can give the parts between your fingers a stingy rash."

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Mr Stoker said that years ago yellowy-brown jellyfish the size of bicycle wheels were not uncommon off the island, although he had seen none for decades.

Physical contact with "squolders," as they were known locally, was much more unpleasant than touching the current influx of blue creatures.

"There's been more of the blue ones here this spring than I've seen since I was a boy, and that's 70 years ago," he added.

"But they are dying off now. A few weeks ago you had a job walking between them on the beach."

Yesterday Mersea fishing merchant John Jowers said: "There are rather a lot of jellyfish at the moment, even though the water is only 11 degrees. I wouldn't have thought there would be a lot of swimmers in that temperature.

"It can be a pain for fishermen because they clog up the nets, and when you shake them you get stuff in your eyes.

"However, ordinary white jellyfish, which we also get, are completely harmless, Kids love throwing them at each other."

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