Tropical man-of-wars spotted in Lowcountry waters

Image by Flickr user West Coast Fog

On Wednesday, a Portuguese man-of-war was spotted at Folly Beach, and it wasn't the only one--several others have been spotted on area beaches over the past several days.

And, as you can imagine, this isn't necessarily the best news. Portuguese man-of-wars are no laughing matter, and their stings are extremely painful.

What should you know about these menaces? The Post and Courier gave the following info in their report:

  • 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 mucles 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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