Just when you thought it was safe to go into the Mediterranean…

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Following on from last month’s shark sightings in shallow waters in Pineda del Mar, north of Barcelona, Costa Brava, causing four beaches to be closed. Spain is not usually associated with shark attacks. Many are unaware that the Mediterranean Sea has 47 different species of shark, at least 15 of which can be dangerous to humans, including the great white, various types of hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks to name a few, although they are rarely seen and even less near the coast.

It’s not like the average person looks at a shark and thinks, it’s okay it’s only a bigeyed thresher shark. The normal thought pattern is shark – panic, so the increase of these shark sightings is a worry. This year already, sharks have been spotted close to the shore in places like Malaga and Benidorm.

Blue sharks were responsible for the latest scare estimated to have been two meters in length and normally said not to be aggressive, but if provoked ‘may defend themselves if they’re stressed’.

Jellyfish – called ‘medusas’ are still the most common danger to bathers, causing painful stings, which leaves marks on the skin. Contrary to popular belief alcohol or your partner’s urine actually elevates pain and can stimulate the stingers. You would be better using things you may have in-doors like vinegar, cover with talcum powder or shaving cream. Stings will usually fade within an hour.

Other dangers are normally caused by bathers stepping on such sea life as, sting rays ‘rayas’ found in shallow sandy seabeds. They may lash out with their tail, resulting in grazing and irritation and also there is a risk of infection.

Weever fish, these are more dangerous. They bury themselves in the sand waiting to attack smaller fish. Again if trodden on their poison-laden dorsal fin can cause intense pain and infection.

Swimmers should remain vigilant and adhere to the beach warning flags at the Red Cross lifeguard centres.

Green flag – safe for bathing Yellow flag – bathe with caution Red flag – bathing prohibited

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