AFTER a week of excessive heat, many people are doubtless looking forward to hitting the beach this weekend.

But anyone wading into the sea in a bid to cool off will need to take extra care following an invasion of jellyfish.

About 50 of the alien-looking creatures have been found washed up on the beach at Calshot.

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Picture by Stuart Martin​

They have also been discovered along other parts of the south coast following a sharp rise in the number of jellyfish heading for UK waters.

Experts say the increase is partly down to global warming, which is changing our ecosystems.

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According to a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rising ocean temperatures have resulted in marine life entering areas which were previously too cold.

But climate change is not the only culprit. Overfishing means jellyfish have fewer predators, allowing the population to grow.

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Picture by Stuart Martin

Dr Peter Richardson, head of ocean recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, said the creatures found at Calshot appeared to be barrel jellyfish.

"They are going through something of a boom at the moment. They have been occurring in numbers since about April and there are a lot of them about.

"There's suggestion they might be benefitting from a rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change.

"They have quite a mild sting and are not really harmful to people."

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The UK is home to six types of jellyfish and two species classed as "jellyfish-like creatures", including the Portuguese man o’war.

The species most likely to be found along the south coast are Moon jellyfish, Compass jellyfish and the Mauve stinger. Portuguese man o’war are also washed up if they get blown in from the Atlantic.

UK jellyfish are not regarded as dangerous but some species can deliver a nasty sting.

The NHS says anyone on the receiving end should use seawater - not freshwater - to rinse the area which was stung.

Anyone who finds stinging spines from the jellyfish on their skin should carefully scrape them off, possibly using tweezers or the edge of a bank card.

Soaking the area affected with very warm water, or hot towels and flannels, can ease the pain.