The killer jellyfish which devastated Northern Ireland salmon stocks have returned.
Mauve stingers were spotted yesterday on Portrush’s West Strand, Co Antrim. Nearby White Rocks and East Strand were also affected.
The jellyfish wiped out £1 million-worth of salmon at Northern Salmon’s marine farm in Glenarm, Co Antrim, last year.
They covered an area of up to 10 square miles and a depth of 35 feet.
This time they have also been reported in the Republic of Ireland, off the Co Sligo coast.
Samples of the small purple jellyfish were collected and stored overnight in an aquarium at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's (NIEA) coastal zone before being sent to a laboratory at Queen's University, Belfast.
Experts there confirmed they were mauve stingers.
The original discovery was made by a member of the NIEA's staff out walking with his family.
NIEA marine conservation officer Joe Breen said: “There is no suggestion at this stage that the catastrophic bloom which happened last year off the Antrim coast will repeat itself this year.”
He said members of the public had been advised not to go near the jellyfish, capable of a “nasty, powerful” sting.
There have been no discoveries further east at Ballycastle.
Scientists believe mass invasions of the jellyfish could return to British coasts over the |coming years with further devastating |consequences.
Last November, the species’ invasion of baby salmon cages off Glenarm left Northern Salmon facing a two-year recovery period.