The sighting of the Portuguese Man-of-War threatens Jersey’s shore and authorities warns of its dangers. More than two dozen of the creatures have been found in New Jersey on Saturday since the first one on June 21st in Long Beach.
Its appearance may be mild and colorful, but beach goers are not to underestimate how lethal it can truly be or, worse, mistake them for the common jellyfish that can cause nothing more than a painful sting. The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified by its purplish-blue skin, can grow up to 160 feet and its tentacles can grow between 10 and 30 feet.
They may appear like jellyfish, but are actually called siphonophores. It’s not just one creature, but a colony of single organisms working together, all identical but genetically individual, each with its separate function but unable to live on its own. These creatures are not typically found along New Jersey shores. They are prone to appear in warmer waters, such as Florida’s coastline.
Even swimming near the Portugese Man-of-War can be dangerous as the jellyfish-like creature has a great reach and it will wrap its tentacles around the body it catches, inflicting multiple painful and highly toxic stings. Both tourists and locals planning on going to the beach are told to swim away and avoid any sort of contact.
The severity of their venom can vary, depending on the size and age of its victim, and location of the sting. The neck is a particularly dangerous area, possibly lethal, as the venom could be injected directly into the bloodstream. Women and children are said to be more vulnerable than men as their skins are generally thinner.
Even if the creature is found dead and washed up on the beach, they are not to be touched as their sting can still be painful. The warning should especially be heeded by parents with children who are likely to try picking them up, mesmerized by the colorful surface.
Should a situation happen regardless of warnings, doctors urge you not to remove the sting with your hands or touch it in any way. Remove it with stick and carefully wash with warm seawater, not freshwater. If the effects persist for a long time, you should seek urgent medical help.
If somebody is allergic to their sting, they can go into anaphylactic shock, which is potentially fatal so those with known allergies to jellyfish are discouraged from venturing anywhere close. So, if you have been stung and experience trouble breathing, throat closing, tongue swelling or feel like you might pass out, seek immediate medical help.
Sightings have not stopped, so authorities calls for caution before taking a dip and vigilance while swimming in the ocean.
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