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Jellyfish Force Beach Closures

Wednesday March 14, 2012

Jellyfish Force Beach Closures

The reappearance of jellyfish swarms has led to the closure of several of the beaches at Papagayo, on the southernmost tip of Lanzarote, close to the holiday resort of Playa Blanca. Puerto Muelas and Caleta del Congrio, two of the beautiful stretches of sand within the Ajaches National Park, have had to be closed to bathers after large numbers of the purple stinging jellyfish were spotted there yesterday.

This is the fourth such incident in the last four months, with numerous beaches in the northern half of the island and along the eastern coastline affected since November last year. The presence of high numbers of these creatures in waters surrounding Lanzarote has been so unusual that the Department of Fisheries at the Lanzarote Government has undertaken a study to find out the causes of this invasion.

Whilst there are in fact as many as 170 different species of jellyfish to be found in the sea around the Canary Islands, the recent swarms have seen concentrations of the purple stinging jellyfish, as well as a few examples of the Portuguese Man o’War.

The study carried out by the Department of Fisheries concluded that a slight increase in the temperature of the sea around the islands may be responsible. And that the trade winds may well have brought the creatures in from open water, where they normally reside. Added to this is the possibility that the dry winter has also contributed to the situation, as it has been acknowledged that in years of low rainfall there is a greater tendency for jellyfish to appear in large numbers.

For the time being, bathers are advised not to swim off these beaches, as their tentacles can produce painful welts on the skin.

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