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Venus and Jupiter conjunction: Dawn display awaits sky-watchers

As they wake up on Monday morning 13th November 2017, those with a clear view will be able to see Venus and Jupiter aligned together.  The planets will appear together in the south-east, just above the horizon.

In the UK, the best viewing time will be 40 minutes before sunrise. Viewed from London, the planets should appear just before 0600 GMT with conjunction occurring just after.  Experts say they will be so close as to appear almost on top of each other, perhaps looking like one bright star.

Clear skies are needed - and forecast for much of England and Wales. The sun will not rise until around 0715 GMT, meaning there will be plenty of time to view the spectacle before the sky brightens too much.

While the planets will be visible to the naked eye, viewers with a telescope will also be able to see Jupiter's four Galilean moons.  The planets will be seen best by those in mid-northern latitudes around the world, including the UK and northern US.

Observers will have to have an uninterrupted view to the south-east as the planets will be very low in the sky. Those on high ground have the best chance of seeing the conjunction.  Binoculars could be used to get a better view before the sun rose above the horizon.  However, he warned people not to do this after sunrise, as it could be dangerous.

Man and dog rescued from the water at Rocky Valley

Bude Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) members were paged at 10:25 today, 1st November 2017, and tasked to Rocky Valley, just north of Tintagel, to back up Boscastle CRT following the report of a dog trapped in the water at the bottom of the cove, with the adult male owner having also descended in an attempt to rescue.

With members of Boscastle CRT already on scene and relaying communications as the Bude team arrived, lifejackets were donned before the team (along with further members of Boscastle CRT) commenced down through the valley to the scene of the incident, fully equipped with water rescue equipment, should it be required.

With members of Boscastle CRT having already ascertained that access to the casualty and his dog was extremely treacherous and that a rope rescue should be a last resort, and with sea conditions being very calm, it was decided that the best access would be from the water itself, and the Port Isaac Lifeboat was subsequently tasked by Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC).

As Bude and Boscastle CRTs continued to monitor and reassure the casualty, Port Isaac Lifeboat arrived on the scene, and deployed one member of the crew to standby with the casualty, as the boat and the rest of crew came alongside into a more favourable position from which to get the casualty and his dog on board.

Once the casualty and the dog were safely aboard, the lifeboat left the scene and deposited the casualty and the dog on Castle Beach, just below Tintagel Castle, where his relieved wife and son – who had been escorted there by members of Boscatle CRT – were there to greet him.

Well done to all involved in the rescue. What people should do and what they actually do in such circumstances don’t always match. A happy outcome.

Story and rescue courtesy of Bude Coastguard Rescue Team

Recommended firework displays in Cornwall 2017

With 'Bonfire night fast approaching, here's a list of recommended dsiplays in Cornwall. The underlined venues are the nearer locations.

1. Driftwood Spars, St Agnes

Nestled in picturesque Trevaunance Cove, the Driftwood Spars Hotel in St Agnes will again host its scenic firework display on Sunday November 5.

The event starts at 5.30pm and is set to feature a children's entertainer, food stalls, and an outdoor bar boasting tasty mulled wine and mulled cider.

2. Falmouth firefighters display

Falmouth firefighters will light up the sky with their annual firework display on Sunday, November 5. Falmouth Firefighters Social and Welfare Club and members of Falmouth Cricket Club will be hosting this year’s event at Falmouth Cricket Ground off Trescobeas Road.

This year will see £7,500 worth of fireworks being let off to music. Gates will open at 6pm for a 7pm start and entry is priced at £4 for adults and £2 for children.

Falmouth firefighters, left to right: Mark Tucker, Giles Kent, Simon Mcgovan, Glen Beale, and Stuart Williams
Falmouth firefighters, left to right: Mark Tucker, Giles Kent, Simon Mcgovan, Glen Beale, and Stuart Williams

3. Ginsters Fireworks Spectacular, Callington

The annual Ginsters firework display is set to take place at Callington Community College on Saturday, November 4. Aside from the aerial displays there will be children’s attractions and hot food on sale. Entry to the event is free of charge and everyone is welcome. Doors open 5.30pm with the dazzling fireworks set to commence at 8.00pm.

4. Heartlands fireworks, Pool

The sky will light up in Pool, near Redruth this Sunday, November 5 as Heartlands hosts its fifth annual Bonfire & Fireworks Night. The community is invited to join with family, friends and neighbours to enjoy an evening of fireworks, bonfire, live entertainment, fairground attractions and a fantastic range of food and drink options at the 19-acre cultural site.

The event kicks off at 6pm with the beginning of the live music programme, including the Motown Pirates, singer/songwriter Sam Richardson, as well as rock band Bite the Buffalo.

A huge bonfire will be lit on the Great Lawn at 6.30pm, with the firework display from 8pm. Live music then continues until the end of the event at 9pm.

5. Heron Inn, Malpas

There will be plenty of gunpowder on show at this year’s annual fireworks fiesta at the Heron Inn, Malpas, with over £5,000 of spectacular aerial bombardment set to light up Truro skies on Saturday, November 4.

Free parking will be available at Boscawen Park and a free shuttle bus will ferry people to and from the event for a small donation to charity. The shuttle will ferry people into Malpas between 5pm and 6.30pm and then take spectators back to Boscawen from 7.30pm until 9pm after the display.

The fireworks will be launched from a steel barge on the water opposite the Heron pub, creating a perfect, atmospheric setting to view the aerial extravaganza.

6. Magpies Football Ground, Penzance

Penzance will host its popular evening of fireworks and music at the Magpies Football Ground on Saturday, November 4. Penzance Silver Band will be showcasing a set of British pop and rock through the ages and there will be plenty of food and refreshments on offer.

Gates will open at 5.30pm and admission is priced at £3 for adults and £1 for children.

7. Newquay Sports Centre

Organised by Newquay Town Council, Newquay Business Improvement District, Visit Newquay, and Newquay Sports Centre, the town's firework display will take place at 7pm on Sunday, November 5.

This is a free community event, but donations are welcomed on arrival to contribute to charity and the future of the event. The public is advised to arrive at 6.30pm and there will be face painting and refreshments on site.

8. Peak Rock Fireworks Display, Polperro

This one will take place on Saturday, November 4 from 6.30pm until 8.30pm. There will be a BBQ on the quay to accompany the spectacular display over Peak Rock.

9. Porthtowan Beach

The fireworks display on Porthtowan Beach is free to attend and takes place this Sunday, October 29. Hosted by Blue Bar and partners, the family event welcomes all and kicks off at 6.30pm.

10. Priory Park, Bodmin

Bodmin will host live sci-fi movie music, a funfair and more alongside its Bonfire night celebrations this year. Taking place on Sunday, November 5, gates will open at 6pm and the bonfire will be lit at 7pm with fireworks to follow. Tickets are cheaper when bought in advance, but on the gate will be priced at £3.50 for adults and £2 for children under 16.

11. Tencreek Holiday Park, Looe

Deano the Dolphin and Sparky the Sharky will be joining in the family fun at Tencreek Holiday Park on Saturday, November 4. Tickets will be purchasable on the gate; priced at £4 for adults adults, £1 for children aged under 16, and £10 for families (two adults and up to three children).  

The firework displays will begin at 7.30pm and all profits will be donated to local youth charities.

12. Tremorvah Playing Field, Truro

Rockets, Catherine wheels and other sizzling, banging and twinkling delights will light up the skies over Truro at the Tremorvah Bonfire and Fireworks Display. The event, now in its 10th year, will take place on Friday, November 3 at Tremorvah Playing Fields in Bodmin Road, opposite Archbishop Benson School.

The gates open at 5pm with fireworks set to commence at 6.45pm. Hot food and refreshments will be provided on site by the Round Table until the event closes at 7pm. Admission is £3 for adults and £1 for children, with those aged 4 and under going free.

13. Wadebridge Camels RFC

The firework night at Wadebridge Camels RFC takes place on Saturday, November 4 from 6pm. The event will feature a BBQ and two bars in addition to the spectacular light displays. Admission is priced at £5 for adults, £3 for under-16s, and £12 for pre-booked family tickets. Pre-sale tickets are available at Bricknells, Bridge Bike Hire and Pod Stores.

14. Wendron Cricket Club

The display at the club in Carnkie starts at 7.30pm on Saturday, November 4. Adults £4, children £1 and free parking. There will be hot food, a bar and a bonfire.

15. Torpoint Rugby Club

A barbecue, burgers, hot dogs, chilli nachos, chicken tikka pitta ... and some fireworks on Saturday, November 4. Gates open at 6pm with the display at 8pm - £2 children, £3 adults, £8 family. Live music follows at 9pm at the Wilcove Inn.

16. Whitsand Bay Fort

There will be fireworks and sparklers, marshmallows to toast on the fire pit and a delicious barbecue on Saturday, November 4 at 6pm. The bonus is it's free.

17. Tregony Sports Club

On Saturday, November 4 at 6.30pm enjoy a barbecue, refreshments, a licensed bar, children’s rides and a ‘Best Guy’ competition. Look out for parking signs as the event is usually very busy and parking in Tregony is limited.

18. Breage

A display takes place at the Queens Arms, Breage, near Helston, at 7.30pm on Friday, November 3. Hot dogs available from 6pm to 7.30pm. Live music from Acoustic Penguins from 8.30pm.

19. Bugle School

This one takes place at 6.30pm on Monday, November 6, with the bonfire lit at 6pm. A family ticket (2 adults, 2 children of primary age) £10, older children and adults £3, schoolchildren £2. Hot dogs, burgers, jacket potatoes and hot drinks.

20. Chacewater

Gates open at the Millennium Green at 6.15pm on Saturday, November 4 with a barbecue, sweets and refreshments. The bonfire is lit at 6.45pm and the fireworks will be let off at 7.30pm.

21. Coverack

What's better than a bonfire on the beach. They take place on Sunday, November 5. The time is yet to be confirmed.

22. Cubert

The display will take place at 7.30pm at Cubert Village Hall with entertainment, barbecue, bar and stall from 6.30pm. Adults £4, children £2.

23. Devoran

One of the best village displays in Cornwall takes place on the quay at 7.15pm on Saturday, November 4. The bonfire is lit at 6.30pm and there won't be any entry after 7pm. £3 adult, £1 child.

24. Helford Passage

The Ferryboat Inn holds its display on Sunday, November 5 from 7pm. There will be a barbecue, outside bar, toffee apples, sweet treats and live music.

25. Lanreath

Held at the village hall near Looe, the display takes place at 7pm on Friday, November 3.

26. Launceston

Beacon lighting at 7pm and fireworks at 7.15 at Coronation Park. Tickets in advance only from the Tourist Information Centre on 01566 772321 - adults £5, children £2.50, family £12.50.

27. Leedstown

Held at the school on Saturday, November 4, the display takes place at 6pm.

28. Liskeard

The display starts at 7.30pm at the rugby club field on Sunday, November 5. Adults £4, Children £1, family £10. Burgers, hot and cold drinks.

29. The Lizard

Held at the football and social club, the display takes place at 6.30pm on Saturday, November 4. Hot food available.

30. Mithian

The Miners Arms holds a display at 7pm on Sunday, November 5. An outside bar will provide mulled wine and cider and there's a barbecue.

31. Trebarwith Strand

A bit earlier this one, it is held on Wednesday, November 1 from 6pm with fireworks in the bay at 7.30pm at the Port William.

32. Newquay

Sunday, November 5 from 6.30pm is when the festivities take place at Newquay Sports and Community Centre, with the fireworks at 7pm.

33. Port Isaac

A little later, this display takes place opposite the Beach House at Port Gaverne beach on Saturday, November 11 at 7.15pm.

34. Probus

Taking place on Saturday, November 4 on the field behind the GP surgery, the time has yet to be confirmed for the display.

35. Ruan Minor

Gates open at 6pm on Sunday, November 5 for the firework display at the recreation ground.

36. Saltash

Foreworks, market stalls, inflatables, live entertainment and a host of Halloween and Bonfire Night activities take place from 2pm to 8pm on Saturday, November 4 at Warfelton Field.

37. Sennen

The famous First and Last Inn holds its fireworks fun from 6pm to 8pm on Saturday, November 4.

38. St Ives

Porthminster Beach is the beautiful setting for a display on Sunday, November 5. Time to be confirmed.

39. St Keverne

The Three Tuns hosts a display at around 7pm on Friday, November 3, with the bonfire lit at 6.30pm. Adults £3, £1 children, under-2s free.

40. St Stephen in Brannel

There's a display at the school on Friday, November 3, with all manner of fun between 5pm and 8pm.

41. Trebarwith

There will be a fantastic display at The Mill House, near Tintagel, from 6pm on Friday, November 3. Adults £2, children £1.

42. Trevone

The bonfire's lit at 6.30pm, fireworks at 7.30pm plus a barbecue and live entertainment at Well Parc Hotel. Tickets are £4.

43. Tywardreath

The fireworks start at 7pm at Tywardreath School on Sunday, November 5, though fun for all the family starts at 5.30pm. Barbecue, glowsticks, candyfloss, adults £4, children £3, family of four £10.

44. Watergate Bay

The event on Saturday, November 4, from 7pm to 10pm, is a non-profit community event, hosted by Wax. There will be collections for local organisations, raffles, BMX demonstrations, music and stands selling hot drinks and food.

Car parking is available in both of Watergate Bay's large car parks and additional car parking will be put on if the event hits a certain amount of confirmed attendance on Facebook (so it is important you click 'attending').

The fireworks will be launched by a professional team from the hills around Watergate Bay. So the best viewing of the event will be in Watergate Bay itself. Viewing areas will be clearly defined on the night.

45. Widemouth Bay

The Bay View Inn hosts a display on Sunday, November 5 at around 6pm. The event is free.

46. Wadebridge Young Farmers

The event takes place on Friday, November 3, at Pengelly Farm, Burlawn, by kind permission of the Hodge family. Gates open at 6.30pm, with a fireworks display at 7.30pm. Refreshments will be available on the night.

47. St Just

St Just RFC hosts a display on November 11. Time to be confirmed.

Halloween family fun in Cornwall

From pumpkin carving and story-telling to spooky trails and candlelit tours, Cornwall has a range of creepy and creative events for all the family this half term.

Heligan Halloween, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan
21-29 October
Heligan’s magical and mysterious woods will play host to a Spooky Folklore Trail this half term. From the 21st – 24th October, the fantastic Puppet Craft, will use shadow puppets to whisk you away to ancient Russia in search of the mysterious wicked witch of the east Baba Yaga. From the 25th – 29th October, join renowned local storyteller Jenny Beare as she bravely enters the enchanted forest and goes where so many before have been too fearful to go…

Halloween Activities at Paradise Park, Hayle
21-29 October
Join in the ghoulish fun at Paradise Park! The ‘Owl Prowl’ trail will be running from 21st to 29th October with a special Halloween Disco on Friday 27th. During half term week, you can explore the grounds of the Park hunting out the clues about the creatures of the night. And when you complete all the answers your skills will be rewarded with a lovely sweet treat… yum!

Shriek Week, Newquay Zoo
21-29 October
Take your little horrors to Newquay Zoo this half term for some spooktacular fun! Complete the Shriek Week trail to help free the zoo keepers from the Evil Witch and receive a special prize. Watch the Creepy Crawlies Talk, get a spooky makeover at the face painting station and feast on some spooktacular specials in Lemur Café. Wear fancy dress to be in with a chance of winning a prize!

Holloweden, The Eden Project, St Austell
21-29 October
This half-term, pit yourself against some of Roald Dahl’s most terrible villains at Eden’s spooktacular special event that will delight children and grown-ups alike. The whole family can brave challenges from notorious characters, learn how to spot real witches, tackle the Trunchbull test, tiptoe around sleeping giants in the BFG’s magical, mystical cave and follow in the footsteps of Fantastic Mr Fox, tunnelling your way to plump chickens whilst avoiding capture by the frightful farmers.

Creepy Castle Tour, Pendennis Castle, Falmouth
26 - 27 October
At Pendennis Castle there will be eerie evening tours this half term; an after-hours journey back into the historic castle's creepy past. Meet spine-tingling storytellers and discover tales of ghostly apparitions, dastardly deeds, and ghoulish goings-on. Not for the faint hearted! There will be Family Tours at 5.30pm and 6.30pm and an Adult Tour at 7.30pm.

Trick or Treasure at Pirate’s Quest, Newquay
21-28 October
Prepare to be transported back almost 300 years, where you will begin an adventure on board a Pirate Hunter’s Ship. Your buccaneering guide will rescue you from the sinking vessel, escort you through a secret passageway, and guide you on your journey. From spriggans and knockers to witches and will o’ the wisps there’s plenty of spooktacular villains to meet during the adventure. Families can join in the ghoulish fun with a special spooky treasure map, follow the hidden Halloween clues to claim some of the cursed treasure!

Halloween Trail and Crafts at Antony House, Torpoint
23-24 October
Join in the spooky goings-on at the atmospheric Antony House. Follow he Halloween garden trail to locate Antony's hidden carved pumpkins, what will be under their lids to help you claim your prize? Get crafty and use your spooky imagination to create your very own Halloween lantern to take home. And when it gets dark, see Antony's landscape in a different light as you search for creatures of the night!

Ride The Spooks Express During Halloweek at Lappa Valley, St Newlyn East
21-29 October
For family-friendly fun this half term, take the little ones to Lappa Valley Railway. Alongside all of the regular great attractions, there will be a Spooks trail, children’s Halloween quiz, spooky colouring and a prize for everyone who comes in fancy dress! You can also meet the newest recruits, the swan pedalo boats who have been making themselves at home on the lake.

Trick or Treat Hunt at Healeys, Penhallow
27-31 October
On the weekend of the 27th-31st October Healeys Cyder Farm will host a free trick-or-treat hunt where participants must find all the giant sweets to spell a spooky word and win a treat! There is also a chance of winning a Healeys goodie bag of treats by entering the apple carving contest. If you're brave enough, you can go on a candle-lit tour of the old cellars or spooky tractor ride down to the haunted orchard.

Flambards Tricks & Treat Firework Spectacular & Spooky Pumpkin Trail, Flambards Theme Park, Helston
21-27 October
There’s tons going on at Flambards this half term! On Wednesday 25th families can enjoy spine-tingling rides and a spooky pumpkin trail in the creepy Victorian Village throughout the day and watch fireworks light up the sky in the evening. Collect your copy of the Halloween Penny Dreadful; with a spooky quiz trail to complete as you explore the street and learn some revolting Victorian facts. Other events taking place throughout half term week include creepy crawly shows, circus workshops and ghost stories.

Freak Week at Cotehele Mill, Saltash
21-29 October
This autumn there will be plenty of adventures at Cotehele. This will be your last opportunity to experience the wonders of the mill before it closes for winter conservation. To make this final week special, we’ll be decorating the place for Halloweeen, staff and volunteers will be in fancy dress, and there will be a children's trail with treats. There will also be pumpkin carving and broomstick making in the courtyard! Explore the house in the dark and experience the spooky side of Cotehele. You can also wander around the atmospheric mansion by torchlight on the 28th

Trebah Garden Freaky Finger Shadow Trail, Mawnan Smith
24 & 26 October
Join in the seasonal events at Trebah this half term. There will be an intimate "Projection Show" from Hope and Anchor, a chance to get "Freaky" with your fingers at a drop-in "Freaky Fingers" Shadow Puppet Workshop and the opportunity to carve a "Freaky Face" on a pumpkin! To top it all off, children get free entry to the garden throughout the whole of October.

Rogue Theatre, Tehidy Woods, Portreath
28-31 October
Adventure deep into the woods for an unforgettable storytelling experience. The Dead of Night Dance is a unique Halloween Celebration, with theatre, thrills, frights, and delights. Immerse yourself in enchanting stories featuring a spook show with Wild Witches, Uncontrollable Werewolves, Heartbroken Vampires and Long Lost Brides. Fancy dress and pumpkins are encouraged.

Tate St Ives reopens this weekend with new gallery

Tate St Ives will reopen this weekend after an 18-month closure and a long, drawn-out £20m expansion project requiring machines to pound the Cornish cliffside to remove blue elvan, the hardest rock in the British Isles.

Now buried in the cliff is an incongruously bright and airy 500 sq metre gallery for contemporary art shows that curators hope will put the gallery firmly on the international art map.

The main aim of the extension was to show both contemporary art and works from Tate’s impressive collection of modernist art at the same time. The first artist to exhibit in the new space is Rebecca Warren, a contemporary British leader in sculpture.  

Previously the displays were rotated, meaning the gallery was closed for a fortnight three times a year.  Now the existing galleries will house the world-class collection of fabulous and important works by artists including Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Heron, Peter Lanyon and Terry Frost – all artists with links to the area.

It has been a long and sometimes rancorous process to get the Tate St Ives expansion with two years of public meetings leading to the final plan to bury the extension out of sight.

When Tate St Ives first opened, an estimated 70,000 visitors a year were expected. It became more like 250,000. The revamped gallery is projected to get 300,000 a year.

The internationally important gallery will open at the weekend with free extended entry and fireworks on the beach.

Cornwall well represented in the 2018 Michelin Guide

No surprises for Cornwall in the new 2018 Michelin guide – but every reason to celebrate the county’s extraordinary chefs and restaurants. Here are the eateries that are still twinkling in the revered guide, both with stars and the brilliant Bib Gourmand winners.

Bib Gourmands are given to restaurants which offer both high-quality food and good value for money and the restaurants which achieve them do not necessarily have to offer the same level of service that those winning a star would be expected to.

Michelin Star

For the full, Cornish seafood experience, Nathan Outlaw’s your man and his eponymous 2 Star flagship restaurant is the one to book. Except at lunchtime, when you can opt for a modest 4 or 5 courses, they exclusively serve a sumptuous tasting menu, showcasing the finest sustainable seafood caught off Cornwall’s beautiful coastline. The first floor dining room is small and intimate, with room for a party of six, while the downstairs kitchen bar can accommodate eight, either as a group or individual bookings.

Paul Ainsworth, who has held his Michelin star since 2012, may be the nicest chef to ever have appeared on Masterchef, so no surprises his Padstow restaurant is known for being a really friendly place. No uptight fustiness here! Diners can expect, modern British cuisine in an elegant and intimate townhouse setting. Carefully sourced local produce, such as Porthilly Oysters, Tamar Valley lamb and day-boat fish, star in the restaurant’s exquisitely crafted dishes. For a more relaxed family experience, Paul’s other Padstow eaterie, the Italian Rojano’s in the Square also appears in the Michelin Guide for the first time this year.

Cornish chef Chris Eden heads up the kitchen at the 1 Star Driftwood restaurant in Portscatho. Part of a gorgeous cliff top hotel overlooking the sea, it’s a comparatively relaxed place to sample such exceptional food, with a lovely deck where you can enjoy drinks on a sunny evening. Fresh Cornish seafood and West Country meats are the basis of Chris’ dishes that combine delicious flavours and textures to awaken your taste buds. The restaurant is open for dinner every evening and offers private lunches for a minimum of six people.

Nathan has not one but two Michelin-star restaurants in Port Issac and his 1 Star Outlaws Fish Kitchen is the more affordable and relaxed of the two. Housed in a rustic seaside cottage in the heart of the village, there are just eight tables and an intimate yet lively atmosphere. Head Chef Tim Barnes’ menu is dictated by the sea and the fishermen, as much of the fish is sourced from inshore day boats and is cooked to order. Choose from small, original and delicious seafood plates, designed to share, tapas-style.

Bib Gourmand

Family-run Black Rock restaurant in St Ives has held on to its Bib Gourmand endorsement for some years now. The stylish interiors are hung with local art and chef David Symons menu has an emphasis on local, seasonal produce.

Situated in the beautiful Cornish village of St Tudy, the Inn has a warm and cosy atmosphere and a passion for simple, rustic cuisine, real ales and fine wines. The kitchen is headed up my Emily Scott, whose fabulous food you might also have enjoyed at feast nights around the county.

Kota, meaning shellfish in Maori (chef Jude Kereama is half Maori, half Chinese Malay), is set in a 300-year-old building right on the harbour front, in the fishing village of Porthleven. The beautiful colourful cuisine here sees the best local produce given a signature Asian twist.

Arguably Cornwall’s best-known chef, Rick Stein put Padstow on the foodie map. Rick Stein’s Café, offers up simple fish dishes with imaginative flavours, in a laidback atmosphere. It’s also a great place to enjoy a lazy breakfast.

The Tolcarne Inn, a 300 year-old maritime Inn in the heart of Newlyn, this down-to-earth pub serves up beautifully fresh seafood in a laidback setting. The kitchen is headed by renowned Cornish chef Ben Tunnicliffe (who took over the Newlyn local with his family in 2012) and the menu makes the most of the historic nearby fish market.

More things to know about the Portuguese man-o-war

More Portuguese man-o-war have washed up on beaches along the coast of Cornwall in what experts say is the biggest stranding since 2012 and Perranporth beach was temporarily closed after large numbers of the creatures appeared there.

Their long blue/purple tentacles can give a painful sting which in extremely rare cases can be fatal, said the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

Where does the name come from?

The name comes from the shape of the sail which, when it is inflated, looks like an 18th Century Portuguese battle ship.

Is it true that vinegar will help the pain like jellyfish stings?

There's been all sorts of debate but the most recent scientific research has come from National University of Ireland who concluded that the best way to treat a sting is to wash the area in vinegar before removing the tentacles with tweezers and then bathing the affected area in warm water of about 45 degrees for 45 minutes.  Lifeguards in Australia have vinegar at their disposal to treat stings.

What makes the venom fatal?

The venom contains a combination of amino acids unique to the man-of-war. It is used to paralyse small fish as its prey.  The sting induces acute pain and leaves red welts on the skin.  If someone has an allergic reaction or an existing condition it can cause fever, shock and affect the heart and lung functions, although this is extremely rare.

How do they reproduce?

A man-of-war is a siphonophore - a type of an animal that is made up of a colony of organisms working together.
They have sex organs called gonozooids which can be either male or female.  They release their sperm and eggs into the sea where they meet up and fertilise.  These create floating larvae which grows a colony of four types of polyps - the float, the sting, the reproductive cells and the digestive system.

What do they eat?

It's thought the larvae feed on plankton and when they are fully developed they catch baby fish and small adult fish. 
There are some small fish species which live among the tentacles and are covered in a mucus which protects them from the sting.  It is thought that the man-of-war provide shelter for the fish species that live among the tentacles thaht attract larger fish which become prey.

Do they live on their own or in groups?

These are solitary animals. They don't shoal or swarm.  The reason they get together is because they travel in the water whichever way the wind blows.

Beware the Portuguese man o' wars washing up on Cornish shores

Menacing Portuguese man o' wars are invading Britain's beaches with record numbers washing up on the Cornish coast.  The Cornwall Wildlife Trust said there had been 144 sightings in the last three days, beating the previous record of 40 recorded in 2000 and 2009.
 
The man o' war has long tentacles that can cause a painful sting and be fatal in extremely rare cases. They normally live far out in the ocean, but with the recent hot spring weather and strong westerly winds there are worries that larger than usual numbers are drifting towards UK holiday beaches.

The ‘jellyfish’, with poisonous tentacles reaching out an incredible 160ft (49 metres), lurk inches below the surface and just one sting can leave a swimmer in agony and even kill a small child.  However, the stings are incredibly rare and the man o' war is actually a beautiful life form, wonderfully adapted to life in the open ocean, and are only usually seen in extremely rare cases on our shores.

The Portuguese man o' war are ocean-going animals, propelled by the wind on their inflatable sail as they fish the depths with their stinging tentacles.  It's the tentacle-like polyps that can give an agonising sting.

Because a stranded Portuguese man o' war looks a bit like a deflating purple balloon with blue ribbons attached, children will find it fascinating.  So, if you're visiting west coast beaches in the next few weeks it's well worth making sure you know what these animals look like so that no one picks them up.

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Updated on January 27th, 2013

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