Vanguard of Sailor Land on East Cork Beaches

By Seamus Whelehan


Hundreds of sailors have invaded East Cork beaches - but not the sea faring variety. Countless numbers of Jellyfish-like creatures, known as by the wind sailors, or Velalla Velalla, were spotted on stretches of Ballycotton Bay, Ballycroneen and Ballybrannigan Strand last weekend.

Often mistaken as deadly Portuguese Man O War Jellyfish, the creatures had sparked fear that an armada of the venomous Jellyfish was attacking East Cork beaches, the smallest fragment of which can issue a lethal red blister- like sting.   Unlike Portuguese Man O War, Irish Water Safety say these mass floating invaders do not pose a serious risk.

In 2017 the East Cork Municipality stopped its practice of removing the venomous Portuguese Man O War, as scores invaded many of its main beaches over a two week period.   Instead, the Municipal District has taken the do not touch warning for any future vanguard of the deadly creatures that wash up on our beaches here.    Not a true Jellyfish, but a close relative, by the wind sailors have a bluish oval disk reaching 8 centimetres in diameter.   Equipped with a sail that projects above the surface of the water to catch the wind and aid dispersal around the float, is a ring of tentacles that give a mild sting.

While this latest invasion may not be as deadly as first thought, the public are being warned to tread carefully when using the beach, as Portuguese Man O War can appear at any time.  Parents are particularly urged to keep an eye on young children as the creatures can often be mistaken as balloons.   Despite looking harmless they can pack a deadly punch and are known to have tentacles the length of five buses. The sea creatures normally arrive here in large numbers on the back of tropical maritime air flows which keep our waters at approximately 15 degrees Celsius.

If you do happen to get stung by one of these venomous Siphonophores, Irish Water Safety has issued the following advice:

  • Ensure you don’t get stung yourself when aiding others.
  • Remove any attached tentacles with a gloved hand, stick or towel.
  • Do not rub the affected area, as this may result in further venom release.
  • Rinse the affected area with sea-water (do not use fresh water, vinegar or urine)
  • Apply a “dry cold pack” to the area (i.e. place a cold pack or ice inside a plastic bag and then wrap this package in a t-shirt or other piece of cloth).
  • Seek medical attention if there is anything other than minor discomfort (please note: the sting can cause anaphylactic shock, if you are feeling unwell go to Accident and Emergency for treatment).

Members of the public should also report sightings of these jelly fish to the Local Authority or local Water Safety Development Officer. A list of Safety Development Officers can be found at