photo by Hans Hillewaert (Wikimedia Commons)

Spain’s beaches are unusually full of dangerous, round, pinkish-purple blobs this year. No, they’re not aggressive sunburnt British holidaymakers drunk on cheap Spanish beer, but swarms of Mauve Stinger jellyfish – and they’re causing havoc.

Several beaches on the Costa Blanca – an area on Spain’s Mediterranean coast which is particularly popular with British tourists – have been closed due to the recent invasion of jellyfish. The Mauve Stinger jellyfish, or Pelagia nocticula, has a mild sting, but can cause severe, even fatal, reactions in some people.

From a report in the Telegraph:

The Red Cross treated 50 people for stings in just half an hour last Thursday on a beach in Denia, a resort on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast and fear numbers may reach that of 2008, when a record 4,000 people were treated for stings in Denia alone.

Jellyfish populations have boomed in the past few years – a phenomenon attributed to global warming, overfishing and organic pollution from agricultural waste and fertilizers.

Warmer temperatures may also be causing the Mauve Stingers to move north. In 2007 a salmon farm in Northern Ireland suffered an invasion which killed over 100,000 fish, according to an AP report.

Earlier news, like this article from Barcelona Reporter, reported that researchers expected less jellyfish in Spain this year. However, populations of certain species are exploding in areas of low salinity, such as Denia. Besides Mauve Stingers, highly dangerous Portuguese Man 0’War – though not actually a jellyfish – have been spotted in the Atlantic off the coast of Asturias in Northern Spain.

For accounts of several jellyfish attacks in recent years from around the world, see the following article from AOL News:

When Jelly Goes Bad: 6 Recent Jellyfish Attacks