Heads up: Tropical man-of-wars spotted at Beaufort County beaches (Updated)

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Update December 29 x2: All's well on Hunting Island.

Update December 29: WTOC 11 has a video report (see it here) and notes that this year's Polar Bear Plunge on Hilton Head has been canceled.

We've reached out to the organizers at the Hunting Island Pelican Plunge to see if there are any concerns and will update you once we hear.

First reporting: As with earlier this year, a wave of unexpected Portuguese man-of-wars is causing concern on area beaches — doubly so with the local polar bear swims just around the corner.

So far sightings have been reported on Fripp and Hitlon Head islands.

Portuguese man-of-wars are no laughing matter, and their stings are extremely painful. What should you know about these menaces? Here's some handy tips:

  • They look like blue balloons floating on the water's surface, but beneath the surface are tentacles that can extend as far as 60 feet.
  • The stings are very painful; symptoms include intense muscle and joint pain as well as a severe shooting pain at the site of the sting.
  • If you're stung, treat the sting by showering in seawater or fresh water in order to remove any tentacles that may be stuck to your skin (ouch!).
  • And don't use vinegar on man-of-war stings! It may work on jellyfish stings, but it can actually worsen man-of-war stings.

If you come across a man-of-war on the beach, it's recommended that you bury it without touching it in order to prevent it from stinging someone else.

The state Department of Natural Resources also has a great resource on jellyfish, along with a list of local varieties. And if you've been stung, or know someone who has, here are some tips on how to treat a sting.

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