EXPERTS are warning people to watch out for an invasion of jellyfish landing on South Tyneside’s beaches.
Last weekend as 10,000 people flocked to the coast, lifeguards from the Royal National Lifeboat Institute treated 15 people for stings as they paddled on Sandhaven Beach in South Shields.
However Sean Mills, a lifeguard supervisor, believes the marine invaders, which can cause nasty stings – and sometimes more serious consequences – are likely to increase in numbers over the next few weeks, echoing scenes from 2007, when the shoreline was covered.
He said: “During the course of the weekend I’d say we had 15 people – including children and adults – who had been stung by a jellyfish after playing in the water.
“For the most part they cause a nasty nettle-like sting, but some people can have allergic reactions, so a sting can be more serious.
“The weather has been warm, and so has the water, so this increases the numbers.
“This happened a few years ago, when there were lots of them lying about on the beach, and it’s likely this will happen again.
“I’d urge everyone to be careful when they’re in the water, and also watch out if they’re walking along the sand in case they step on them.”
The two main types of jellyfish arriving on the borough’s beaches are the less harmful ‘Moon’ and ‘Lion’s Mane’ – the largest-known species.
The stings of both can be eased by re-entering the salty seawater or applying vinegar, which is available from the RNLI lifeguard station.
Mr Mills said: “Obviously most aren’t keen to go back into the water, so if they come to us we will apply some vinegar and the pain will eventually subside.
“Usually people don’t realise they’ve been stung until they actually get out of the water, and their feet and legs start to hurt.”
Mr Mills said that despite the high numbers visiting the beaches over the weekend there were no serious incidents.
However, eight children became separated from their families and two men needed assistance in the water after getting stuck on rocks and becoming tired.
He said: “Thankfully all the children were reunited. “And both the men were fine, they just needed a bit of help from our lifeguards.
“It was a very successful weekend.”