CAPE CANAVERAL and COCOA BEACH, Florida – Small, circular sea creatures with ‘spokes’ extending outwardly are washing ashore on Brevard County beaches.
Blue Buttons (Porpita porpita) are catching the prevailing southeasterly winds that have already blown ashore Portuguese Man-o-War, Blue Dragon Sea Slugs, and By-the-Wind Sailors onto Florida’s east coast.
Blue Buttons aren’t jellyfish. They are Chondrophores – a colony of colony of hydrozoan polyps that only appear to be one marine animal.
Although they are similar to Portuguese Man-o-War, Blue Buttons do not have a powerful sting to humans. Instead, their venom produces a slight itchiness to people who are not allergic to the toxin.
Blue Buttons feed on crustacean larvae. Their natural predators are Blue Sea Dragons.