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  • Shaun Yeo

Portuguese Man O War, Invades Gibraltar Waters!

Weeks of strong westerly storms here in Gibraltar have resulted in an invasion of our coastlines! The Portuguese Man O War, have been blown in from the Atlantic Ocean, into the Bay of Gibraltar and as far up as the beaches on the East Side of La Linea in Spain.

I first heard of them on our local news page in social media. It made the news when we finally had a break from the bad weather, and people headed to the beaches with their families. Little did they know that the shores were infested with Portuguese Man O War. Lifeguards on the West Side beaches of Gibraltar put in place the “Red Flag”, swimming was prohibited.

The next day, an early Sunday morning, I headed off to Camp Bay, with my camera gear all setup. I was very excited to be getting in the water with these creatures, and being able to photograph them. I have never photographed one before! As we headed to the beach after kitting up, I learned that the lifeguards had removed around 40 Portuguese Man O Wars from the shores the day before. It was very disappointing, we did not find any around during the morning’s dive.

The very next day, I went for an outing to Rosia Bay with my family. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw a sea of bubbles on the horizon, the whole of Rosia Bay was covered in Portuguese Man O War! I decided to quickly go get my camera equipment and all my diving gear, and before I knew it I was in the water surrounded by Portuguese Man O War! These creatures can be deadly to children or people with heart conditions, so I made sure I had my whole body covered, in case I made contact with any of its tentacles.

Swimming around in the surface, I came upon a Portuguese Man O War which had just stung a small fish, killed it, and was bringing it in with its long tentacles, ready to be digested! I knew this would be a perfect photo opportunity. Well it took me almost two hours, but eventually I managed to get a few shots I was happy with. It was very challenging with the water movement on the surface, to be able to take a split photograph of land and sea in one!

Later that night, I passed all 235 photos to my computer, of which I chose the best photos, to touch up and publish. It wasn’t until 2AM that I had finalised my project!

I made the front page of both our local newspapers; the Gibraltar Chronicle & the Panorama.

My photo also came out on GBC News Watch.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of messages I have received from this photo being circulated all around Gibraltar through various platforms. I would like to thank everyone for all their kind words and especially my family, which during the day provided surface support on land.

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