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Keep Your Eyes Out for Portuguese ‘Man O' War’ on Treasure Coast Beaches

Portuguese Man O' War 2.jpg
Photo courtesy Encyclopedia of Life
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Portuguese Man O' War

Treasure Coast-April 6, 2022: It’s not their fault when they wash ashore. Portuguese 'Man O' War' can’t control where they go, they are driven by ocean currents and they land where the winds and waves take them.

“Since Man O' War are these organisms that cannot self-propel, they essentially hitch-hike and are moved around by prevailing winds and current activity," says Ana Zangroniz, a Sea Grant extension agent with the University of Florida in Miami. "That is usually what drives them in closer to shore.”

No matter how many “Man O' War” there are, it’s never 'Men of War', it’s always singular. And they’re not jelly fish, says Zangroniz. “They’re often mistaken for jellyfish because they look quite similar with their sail which floats on the surface and then the tentacles underneath," she says. "But the Man of War is actually a siphonophore which is an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.”

And beware, says Zangroniz, dead or alive. 'Man O' War pack a powerful sting. “Beach goers should be very conscientious about where they’re swimming and looking around to avoid these organisms because they can receive a very nasty sting and that remains true even if the organism is washed up on the beach dead.”

If you do get stung, flush your skin with hot water, as hot as you can stand, says Zangroniz. If the pain persists, see a physician.