FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – Recent southeasterly winds have been blowing Portuguese Man-of-War, also known as Blue Bottles, onto the popular tourist beaches on Florida’s east coast during the last week of December 2019.
The manowar jellyfish appear to be most heavily concentrated in South Florida from Vero Beach to Pompano Beach to Miami and the Florida Keys, according to social media reports and photos (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren’t blue jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae).
Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War become entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.
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.
Rinse the area of the jellyfish sting with vinegar.
Do not rinse the area with fresh water because that will make the stingers fire more venom into the victim.
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 tweezers.
If tweezers are unavailable, use a gloved hand, towel, or dull edge of a plastic card.
Most jellyfish stings, although extremely intense, are relatively minor and will subside after a few minutes.
If you encounter a jellyfish sting that results in fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, scratchy throat, or hives that occur on the 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.