Dangerous Spanish Wildlife

Marine Animals

Dolphins and other Cetacia

Many of these delightful mammals can be seen around the coasts of Spain. Striped, Common and Bottlenose dolphins are the most frequent sightings, though long-finned Pilot whales, Fin whales, Sperm whales and Orcas also frequent many of Spain's coastal waters. In the Bay of Biscay, one might also find Minke whales and Risso's dolphins.

A popular whale watching spot is the Bay of Algeciras near Gibraltar


Jellyfish are found in all coastal areas here as they are in the UK. They are often difficult to see or avoid and coming into contact with them is sticky and unpleasant, but most are harmless.
See below for the nasties:

Pelagia Noctiluca is a very common small jellyfish with a really painful sting which leaves marks on the skin. It varies in colour from mauve to brown.

Portuguese Man-O-War (Cnidaria) is not a true jellyfish but a colony and can inflict extremely painful stings depending how close you are to the main body of the creature. The tentacles can be as long as 20metres. Symptoms include severe shooting pain and intense joint and muscle pain which can be followed by headaches, faintness, hysteria, nausea, shock and even collapse.
Initial contact may cause only a small number of stings. Try to move away gently, frantic efforts to escape may cause further discharge of venom and intensify stings. Get out of the water as soon as possible. Take extra care when removing the tentacles from a personís body as severe stings can occur even when the Man of War is beached or dead.

Treatment of Jellyfish Sting

If you are unlucky enough to be stung by a jellyfish, rinse with sea water. Do not rinse jellyfish stings with fresh water because it will re-trigger the stingers. Use sand, clothing, towels, seaweed or other available materials to remove any clinging tentacles. Whilst the tentacles remain on the skin, they will continue to discharge venom. Gently bathe with vinegar. Cover with talcum powder or shaving cream, let it dry and then scrape it off. Stings will usually fade within an hour.

Caution: DO NOT USE Methylated spirits, other forms of alcohol, picric acid or human urine, because recent research has found that all of these old remedies actually stimulate the stingers and may increase pain and cause severe skin reactions.

Warning: Some people are particularly allergic to the sting of the Jellyfish. If the person stung starts itching over other parts of the body, has breathing problems, swelling of the throat or feels feint, seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or hospital.

Monk Seals

Are seen in Spanish waters and are highly protected against hunting. Anyone who would like to assist in preservation projects may be interested in the following two websites:

OceanLaw and Mediterranean Monk Seal Action Plan

Sea Urchins

If you are unlucky enough to tread on an Urchin, do get proper treatment from a doctor or visit the hospital casualty without delay.


Sharks are found in the Mediterranean and are sometimes caught by fishermen but I have not heard of any problems caused by swimming from the beaches here although there have been isolated attacks in past years.

Sting Rays (rayas)

Stingrays can sometimes be found in shallow sandy sea beds. They are not aggressive but if trodden on, may lash out with their tail, resulting in grazing and irritation and also risk of infection.

Weever Fish

These are more dangerous. They bury themselves in the sand waiting to attack smaller fish. Again if trodden on their poison-laden dorsal fin can cause intense pain and infection.

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