The exotic marine species coming to the UK as coast becomes 'more like the Med'

25 June 2023, 22:01

Large and dangerous jellyfish have increasingly been spotted on UK beaches
Large and dangerous jellyfish have increasingly been spotted on UK beaches. Picture: Steve Bowers

By Adam Solomons

Experts have described the stunning range of exotic marine species set to be spotted on UK beaches as Britain's coastline resembles the Mediterranean.

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They include Portuguese man o' war, a predatory type of hydrozoan likelier to be found on British shores as temperatures warm.

Other species thought to be seen on British beaches in greater likelihood include jellyfish, sharks and turtles.

A killer whale and a sperm whale have both been spotted on UK shores in the past few months.

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Read more: Warning as 'Dracula' horseflies that bite through clothes and tear flesh are on their way to Britain

A large jellyfish is pictured at Bramble Bush Bay on Studland, Poole Harbour
A large jellyfish is pictured at Bramble Bush Bay on Studland, Poole Harbour. Picture: Alamy

Anglesey Sea Zoo owner Frankie Hobro told The Mirror: "In August into September, we've been getting water temperatures of 18-19C, and occasionally 20C. These are what you would expect to see in the Mediterranean.

“If the warming trend continues, over the next decade we’ll see a change in the diversity of marine life in UK waters. Already we’re seeing puffer fish and triggerfish being caught in lobster pots here, and their number will likely increase.

“Bluefin tuna and shortfin mako sharks are also being seen more often. They’ve always been here but might be venturing closer to land where they’re more likely to be seen.”

Portuguese man o' war are expected to arrive on British shores in bigger numbers
Portuguese man o' war are expected to arrive on British shores in bigger numbers. Picture: Alamy

Professional and amateur photographers have captured incredible pictures of the exotic sea creatures on popular British beaches, some of which have not been seen before.

Other creatures set to arrive in Britain thanks to warmer temperatures are the so-called Dracula horsefly, which can chew through clothes and tear through flesh.

Symptoms include swelling, dizziness, shortage of breath and anaphylaxis.

A barrel jellyfish is washed up on British shores
A barrel jellyfish is washed up on British shores. Picture: Alamy

The British Pest Control Association placed the dangerous creatures on their 'Top Ten Stings and Bites to Avoid List'.

It warned: "Literally designed to eat a horse, their bite is both impressive and painful.

"The horsefly is a sanguivorous insect and therefore wants to bite you.

"They can persistently chase you at a flying speed of around 15mph, and it'll bite right through clothes.

More unusual marine species are expected to arrive on UK shores in the coming years
More unusual marine species are expected to arrive on UK shores in the coming years. Picture: Alamy

"It has mandibles that can rip and tear flesh apart."

The NHS also warns about potential symptoms.

Its information page says horsefly bites can be "very painful and leave the bitten area of skin red and raised".

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