Five creatures you should never touch if you see them on a West Country beach

five creatures you should never touch if you see them on a west country beach - Five creatures you should never touch if you see them on a West Country beach

Anyone hitting the beach this weekend hoping to catch some rays might wish to brush up on their coastal safety.

While some things are common knowledge, sometimes people can be surprised by the impact which even the smallest of creatures can have.

A nasty sting or bite can be enough to turn a great day out into a nightmarish experience, according to Devon Live .

Here’s a guide to the animals you should avoid if at all possible.

1. Weever fish

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The lesser-known weever fish, common in cold British waters, can cause quite a lot of trouble if you tread on them.

Their spines carry venom used for defence – and that poison will cause serious pain.

Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, numbness and sometimes even local paralysis, which should all subside within 24 hours.

However, it has been known to have longer-lasting effects.

If you get stung seek help from lifeguards who are trained to deal with it, or try submerging the sting in hot water.

If you are concerned seek medical advice.

 

2. Portuguese Man O’ War

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Portuguese Man O’ War (Image: PA)

Although it looks like a jellyfish, the Portuguese man o’ war is actually a colony of four different types of creatures called polyps.

But it’s as deadly as it is zoologically confusing.

Last summer there were scores of the creatures washed up on beaches across the South West – with some having to be closed to the public to stop people or pets coming into contact with them.

From above the water you see a purple floating bag, but underneath are tentacles which can be up to 12 metres long and release poison.

Problems mainly arise if you rub the area, which risks releasing more poison and the pain can cause nausea and convulsions.

You should wash the area immediately – without touching it – and use an ice pack to relieve pain. Seek medical advice as soon as possible.

 

3. Adders

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An adder (Vipera berus) (Image: PA)

We don’t see many snakes in the UK but the adder is one of the most common – and just last month someone was bitten by one of these little critters at Woolacombe beach in North Devon.

Adders pose more of a danger to dogs than humans as they are more likely to disturb the creatures if they stray off footpaths into undergrowth.

Adders, or vipers as they are also known, are the only venomous snake found in the wild in the UK and a bite can be deadly if not treated quickly.

Visitors to moorland, coastal areas and heaths are urged to be aware of them from as early as March to late autumn.

However, they are most likely to be spotted in early spring when they wake from hibernation and want to warm up.

It is not unusual for walkers to come across them curled up on or beside the South West Coast Path.  Although not normally a threat to humans, they will bite if they feel threatened, such as if they are trodden on.

If any owner hears their dog yelp they should check for a snake bite. It may not be immediately obvious, but you should take them to the vet if there is any swelling or discomfort.

 

4. Razorfish

The razorfish is not a fish at all, but a shellfish. You may even recognise one from a fancy restaurant you’ve been to.

They are named after their appearance, which is that of an old-fashioned cut-throat razor. It’s this shape that makes them potentially harmful to unprotected beach-goers’ feet.

One of the worst recorded cases of razorfish injuries was in Torbay in 1998 when more than 800 people were slashed and 30 taken to hospital in a spate of freak razorfish injuries.

Fourteen ambulances, including one air ambulance, were called into action.

It was thought hot weather was to blame, as it caused extreme tides to expose lower stretches of the beaches where unsuspecting bathers and hordes of razorfish could meet.

 

5. Seagulls

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(Image: Daily Mirror)

While seagulls are commonplace on the West Country’s beaches – they are not an animal you want to cross.

Unfortunately many think it’s fun to feed them, but it’s known to encourage bad behaviour from the avian marauders.

People have been hospitalised by dive-bomb attacks, small dogs have been killed and one man even died of a heart attack after an incident in his back garden.

People are reminded to keep their food well covered when eating outside in seaside areas and to never intentionally feed seagulls.

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