A British swimmer who was trying to set a new world record by crossing the Atlantic has been paralysed after he was stung by a deadly Portuguese man o’ war.

Also nicknamed the floating terror, the jellyfish-like creature stung 38 year old Ben Hooper four weeks into his swim. The adventurer had been attemptng to swim from Dakar in Senegal to Natal in Brazil, but he has now been forced to quit his 2,000 mile attempt.

Mr Hooper suffered from partial paralysis after the jelly fish attack as well as excruciating and debilitating pain down his right side, which has left him unable to continue.


In an online post about his progress, he said he was going through his worst nightmare. He confirmed that he had been attacked by a Portuguese man o war before being pulled from the water for treatment.

The swimmer added: “Excruciating and debilitating pain all down my right side from ear to toe. Rolling eyes. Partial paralysis. Dribbling slurred speech. Struggling to maintain consciousness.”

He said that his blood pressure had plummeted and he needed observations every hour for 48 hours. He also apologised to his daughter Georgie, eight, saying he felt he had let her down.

The father is now receiving support on his boat. He was expecting his swim to take him four months. He said that he had already seen sharks and dealt with online trolls mocking the idea of his swim.

Mr Hooper had already fallen behind schedule, saying he had now been expecting the swim to be as tough as it was. He first splashed out from Dakar and had planned to complete his journey in March. However, swimming at the rate he had been, it would have taken him until early 2018 to do so.

Portuguese man o war is renowned as one of the deadliest creatures in the sea. The siphonophore can deliver painful, and sometimes fatal, stings.


Published by Elizabeth

A journalist from the South West of England, Elizabeth specialises in writing about politics, health and technology.