Archive for the ‘Spanish Mediterranean’ Category

Portuguese Men O’ War in Spanish Mediterranean

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Photo by Scott Sonnenberg (wikipedia)

The Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis), one of the world’s most poisonous “jellyfish”, has been spotted off the Andalusian coastline near Almeria and along the Costa del Sol between Cadiz and Malaga. This is the first time they have reached Spain’s coasts for ten years. Scientists have warned the creatures could soon arrive in waters around the Balearic Islands and the Catalan coast. The species is not a true jellyfish but but rather a siphonophore – a colony of four kinds of minute, highly modified individuals, which are specialized polyps and medusoids.

Their sting is 10 times stronger than an ordinary jellyfish. Wikipedia notes:

The stinging venom-filled nematocysts in the tentacles of the Portuguese Man O’ War can paralyze small fish and other prey. Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those which wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live creature in the water, and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the creature or the detachment of the tentacle.Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin which normally last about 2–3 days after the initial sting, the pain should subside after about 1 hour. However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause, depending on the amount of venom, more intense pain. A sting may lead to an allergic reaction. There can also be serious effects, including fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung action. There have even been deaths, although this is rare. Medical attention may be necessary, especially where pain persists or is intense, or there is an extreme reaction, or the rash worsens, or a feeling of overall illness develops, or a red streak develops between swollen lymph nodes and the sting, or if either area becomes red, warm and tender.

Treatment for Man O’ War stings elsewhere on the body involve washing the affected area with salt water and then applying ice to dull the pain. More here

“Climate change is changing the migration patterns of many creatures. If they establish themselves it would be very worrying because they really are very dangerous,” Xavier Pastor, the European director of the Oceana ecological campaigning group, told the Independent.Even dead or washed up on shore the creatures still pose a threat because their tentacles retain their poison.”The Portuguese Man O’ War hasn’t been seen in the Mediterranean for a decade, and its appearance off the Spanish coast could herald a process of colonisation, which has happened with other invading species,” Mr Pastor said. Read in The Daily Telegraph

The Portuguese Man O’ War (named caravela-portuguesa in Portuguese) is named for its air bladder, which looks similar to the triangular sails of the Portuguese ship (man-of-war) Caravela latina (two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship caravel), of the 15th and 16th centuries. As can be seen in the photo. Photo (wikipedia)

See also last year: Portuguese man o’war threat in Cantabrian Sea

Overfishing leading to dolphin deaths

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Overfishing along with pollution is now also being blamed on the rising toll (192) of striped dolphins (delfín listado – Stenella coeruleoalba) in the Spanish Mediterranean, as their resistance to cetacean measles is weakened through hunger. See Possible dolphin epidemic for more details. (El Mundo)

Mediterranean corals in danger

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Oceana have warned of the disappearance of millions of Mediterranean corals due to pollution fishing practices and climate change. More than 200 species of corals, Gorfonacea and anemones live in the Mediterranean. Barely 1% are protected by international accords. (El Mundo)

Murcia shark closes beaches

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Several beaches in La Manga, Murica, have been closed after bathers spotted a shark – apparantly shortfin mako shark (marrajo, Isurus oxyrinchus). This is despite calls for calm from Murcian shark experts who note that the mako is not dangerous (La Verdad). Let us hope this does not have the same lamentable ending as this month’s shark in Valencia. The mako is now considered endangered as it is a favourite catch among commercial and recreational fishermen.  See also sharks in Spain

Possible dolphin epidemic

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Experts are on the alert to a possible dolphin epidemic after numerous dolphins have been found dead on the coast of Valencia. In the last two months 29 striped dolphins(delfín listado – Stenella coeruleoalba) have been found dead with a a virus known as cetacean measles, similar to a virus which caused a high death rate among Risso’s dolphin (calderones tropicales) in the Mediterranean last winter. An epidemic decimated striped dolphin populations in the Mediterranean in the early 1990s . Experts hope that this will not occur this time. Many cetaceans in the Mediterranean have very low immunity levels due to pollution. El Mundo

Striped dolphin in Almeria

The most polluted sea in the world

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

The Mediterranean is the most polluted sea in the world according to various studies done by environmental groups. Pollution hotspots around Spain’s coats are unsurprisingly around the ports of Algeciras and Barcelona

El mar más sucio del mundo (El Pais)

I think we take that “sea” here means open sea, and so excludes bodies of water such as the inland Aral Sea.

Tossa Great White Shark

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

A Great White Shark was washed up injured and later died at Tossa de Mar in 1992. It seems there was an attempt by the local authorities to cover up the incident through fear of upsetting the tourist trade. Juan Rodri from Tossa de Mar, whom I met on wolf-watching trip kindly sent me this photo and press clipping of the incident. Read Sharks in Spain