COCOA BEACH, Florida – Recent southeasterly winds have been blowing Portuguese Man-of-War (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren’t jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae) along with heavy amounts of seaweed onto the popular tourist beaches along Florida’s Space Coast.
Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War are entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.
According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, prevailing southeasterly winds will continue through the week. So, there will be a good chance that Portuguese Man-of-War will remain along Brevard County beaches through at least Memorial Day weekend.
The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified from other jellyfish in Florida by its translucent blue and purple gas-filled air sac that helps them travel long distances across the ocean by acting as a wind-driven sail.
A stinging tentacle cluster mass under the body can have tentacles that may extend up to ten or fifteen feet which captures small prey such as fish pictured above.
Safety officials advise that swimmers avoid these marine animals because their sting can be very intense, and may adversely affect sensitive individuals or those with underlying medical conditions with more severe reactions.
Furthermore, officials advise to not touch or disturb any jellyfish even when found on the beach as they may remain potent after dying or drying out in the sun.
Most stings, although extremely intense, are relatively minor and will subside after a few minutes. Sometimes the tentacles will remain stuck to the skin and it will help to physically remove them as soon as possible from the victim with a gloved hand, towel, or dull edge of a plastic card. Rinsing the area of the sting after removal of any sticking tentacles is advisable.
If you encounter a sting that results in fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, scratchy throat, or hives that occur on skin in areas away from the site of the sting; These symptoms may be indicative of a more severe reaction. You should immediately call 911 and contact the nearest lifeguard if possible.