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Potentially lethal stinger arrives in UK waters

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jellyTHE MARINE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (MCS) have received reports of several Portuguese Men-of-War washing up on beaches in Cornwall and Scilly Isles, just weeks after authorities in Ireland warned local beach goers about a spate of recent strandings of this potentially dangerous floating sea creature. Now the society are warning they could turn up in Wales.

Stings can be exceptionally painful and in extreme cases fatal.

MCS says the Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) are only occasionally reported in UK waters with the last significant UK strandings of the species occurring in 2009 and 2012.

“We don’t receive reports of Portuguese Man-of-War every year, but when we do they can turn up in big numbers, usually around about this time of year”, said Dr Peter Richardson, Head of the MCS Biodiversity Programme, “In the last couple of weeks we’ve received several confirmed reports of Portuguese Man of War stranded on beaches around Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. With the earlier strandings in Ireland, these recent sightings could herald the arrival of more of the creatures as they get blown in from the Atlantic.”

The Portuguese Man-of-War isn’t a jellyfish but is closely related, and consists of a floating colony of hydrozoans – lots of really tiny marine organisms living together and behaving collectively as one animal. A  Cornish pasty-shaped, transparent purple float is visible on the water’s surface whilst the blue, tentacle-like ‘fishing polyps’ that hang below the float can be tens of meters in length.

“It’s the tentacle-like polyps that can give an agonising and potentially lethal sting,” said Dr Richardson, “Because a stranded Portuguese Man of War looks a bit like a deflating purple balloon with blue ribbons attached, children will find it fascinating. So, if you’re visiting a Cornish beach this weekend it’s well worth making sure you know what these animals look like and that no one picks them up. We’d like people to report any sightings of Portuguese Man Of War to our website so we get a better idea of the extent of the strandings.“

One of the animals was found this weekend at Portheras Cove, near Morvah, Cornwall by volunteers of the Friends of Portheras Cove environmental group.  Delia Webb from the group says it was found during a beach clean, lying among the plastic debris that had blown in on the high tide; “We find all sorts of strange and unusual items at our tiny Cornish cove, and we have had strandings of Portuguese Man of War before. They look amazingly beautiful, with hints of pink and blue, but thankfully we were aware of the potential danger lying beneath, and knew not to poke or prod it, just report the sighting to the MCS.”

If you spot a Portuguese Man-of-War then report the sighting immediately, ideally with a picture, to www.mcsuk.org, where a Jellyfish ID Guide, which  includes the Portuguese Man O War, can also be downloaded.

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Man denies £7,000 burglary

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A MAN from West Sussex has today denied carrying out a £7,000 burglary in Lampeter.

Kurtis Poat, aged 23, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Poat, of Osborne Crescent, Chichester, denied breaking into a house in Nantyglyn, Cwmann, in May, 2017, and stealing a tin containing £7,000 in cash.

Poat faces a two day trial scheduled to begin on April 11 and was granted bail until then.

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Campaigners urge air gun licensing following cat shootings

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CATS PROTECTION is urging the UK’s cat lovers to join a call on the Westminster government to introduce air gun licensing in Wales and England, following in the footsteps of Scotland and Northern Ireland where it is illegal to own air weapons without licence.

The government is currently holding a public consultation into air weapon regulation, including licensing, which closes on February 6, making this the ideal time for cat lovers to make their voices heard by sending an e-mail to the Home Office.

To take part people should visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunsconsultation where they can adapt and send the e-mail. People can also watch a video showing some of the feline victims of air gun shootings, which some may find upsetting.

Victims of air gun shootings include Jalapeno, a black-and-white cat from Bridgend who was shot in the eye, and Chaos, a black-and-white cat from South Wales who was shot between her eyes, shattering the bones in her nose.

Luckily both Jalapeno and Chaos survived their injuries after receiving emergency veterinary care.

However, in March 2017, a cat from Barry was fatally shot, as was a cat from Llanell in August 2017.

“Shocking air gun attacks like the ones on Jalapeno and Chaos are by no means rare,” explains Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations.

“Our monitoring of UK press reports shows that three cats are killed or injured by an air gun each week and this is likely to be an underestimate because most attacks are never witnessed or reported. Worse still, over 90% of these shootings take place in Wales and England where it is legal for anyone over 18 to purchase an air gun and ammunition without the need for a licence.

“These attacks cause immense pain and suffering to cats as well as anguish for their owners and fear in their local communities for the safety of people and pets.”

Cats Protection believes that if licensing were introduced, it would be easier to track down culprits who use these weapons to inflict harm on cats.

The charity wants to ensure that cats in Wales and England are fully protected. Those who have a legitimate reason to purchase, possess and use an air gun will be able to retain ownership and would simply need to apply for a licence.

Jacqui added: “Last year over 90,000 people signed an online and paper Cats Protection petition calling for the licensing of air guns in Wales and England, showing the depth of public feeling on the issue. Our hope is that as many people as possible email the government in support of air gun licensing so that we can make the whole of the UK a safer place for cats, animals and human beings.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 190,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

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Police crack down on drink and drug driving

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NEARLY 100 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police for drink and drug driving in December, as a result of the All Wales Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign.

The month-long operation against driving under the influence ran from Friday, December 1, and police forces across the country used intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the festive period.

98 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Supt. Huw Meredith, Specialist Operations, said: “We adopt a proactive, targeted and intelligence-led approach to drink and drug driving, using specialist Roads Policing resources and response officers.

“The number of arrests indicates that sadly some are prepared to risk the lives of others and themselves by driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“Our message is the same all year round – don’t drink/take drugs and drive.”

In 2017 Dyfed-Powys Police arrested 452 people for drink and drug driving.

Operation Snap also launched in December, allowing members of the public throughout Wales to submit footage and images showing traffic offences being committed – from driving dangerously or carelessly to contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights.

To submit footage to any of the four Welsh Police Forces, visit https://gosafesnap.wales/ or https://gosafesnap.cymru.

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