'Admire from a distance but do not touch,' is the warning to beachgoers after an influx of venomous sea creatures washed up on Dorset's beaches.

Over the weekend, a number of Portuguese man o’ war were discovered on beaches in Dorset, including West Bay.

Although these are usually found drifting in the open ocean, strong south westerly winds can blow them onto our shores. Portuguese man o’ war can be identified by their distinctive balloon-like float which acts like a sail to transport them across the surface of the water and they have long blue tentacles, however these are sometimes broken off during stranding.

A spokesman for Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) said sighting should be reported but, should you see any, do not touch as they have a very powerful and painful sting, even when dead.

Local beach comber Erin Tyrrell said she found six of the creatures over the weekend and this led to Lulworth Rangers issuing a warning. They said: “Portuguese man o’ war have been washing up across the south west over the [last] two months. Six have washed in on our beaches over the weekend. Beautiful and dangerous at the same time, its tentacles deliver a very powerful sting.

“Admire from a distance but don’t touch.”

The Portuguese man o’war are not a jellyfish, as it is commonly mistaken for. According to DWT, it is a colonial hydrozoan, made up of small individual animals called zooids - each with their own specific function, e.g. feeding or breeding. They can’t live separately and function together as one animal.