English Channel swimmer in 'jellyfish paranoia'

Image source, Kelvin Trautman
Image caption,
Lewis Pugh is having do dodge jellyfish along the 560km route

Long-distance swimmer Lewis Pugh is dodging swarms of jellyfish as he attempts to swim the length of the English Channel.

Mr Pugh's support boat crew have been forced to act as lookouts on the bow as he tries to become the first person to complete the 560km (348 mile) swim.

Mr Pugh, 48, who is two weeks into the challenge, is being stung two or three times on each session says his team.

The main problem is compass jellyfish, which can give a nasty sting.

Photographer Kelvin Trautman, who is on the support boat following Mr Pugh, said: "We're seeing a lot of compass jellyfish so we resorted to putting someone on sentry duty on the bow of the boat.

"It's a full-time job with a whistle to alert Lewis about the jellyfish and keep him away from them."

Mr Pugh, who is in Salcombe, Devon, started from Land's End on 12 July, is swimming in two or three hour sessions for a total of about 10km every day.

Image source, Kelvin Trautman
Image caption,
The main problem has been compass jellyfish

"He ends up going left or right depending on where the jellyfish are but they are almost unavoidable," said Mr Trautman.

"The presence of jellyfish creates a kind of jellyfish paranoia so that you are looking ahead all the time.

"That wears you down because you never know when you are going to get zapped."

Image source, Kelvin Trautman
Image caption,
But dodging the jellyfish is adding extra pressure on Pugh

Dr Peter Richardson of the Marine Conservation Society, which monitors sea life, said jellyfish numbers varied from year to year but the organisation had not seen unusually large blooms of any particular species.

"However, just because we don't know about them doesn't mean they are not there," he said.

"So we encourage people to report their jellyfish sightings to MCS online so we have a full picture of what is going on."

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