Palm Beach Ocean Rescue is issuing a Portuguese Man-O-War warning to all visitors to the Town of Palm Beach’s beaches over the next several days.
Portuguese Man-O-War are sea animals that look like a jellyfish, but aren’t. In fact, they are a group of four different polyps that rely on each other for survival. They get their name from the crest on top of their float that looks a bit like an old battleship. These creatures use their tentacles to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures.
For humans, most stings cause red welts accompanied by swelling and moderate to severe pain. These symptoms last for two to three days.
Systemic symptoms are less frequent, but potentially severe. They may include generalized malaise, vomiting, fever, elevated heart rate at rest (tachycardia), shortness of breath and muscular cramps in the abdomen and back. Severe allergic reactions to the man-of-war's venom may interfere with cardiac and respiratory function. Individuals that have been stung by a Man-O-War should seek medical evaluation from an Ocean Rescue Life Guard as soon as possible, especially if there are any complications or concerns. If there are no lifeguards available, it is recommended to use a credit card or similar item to remove the tentacles to stop the stinging process and flush the area with water.
It is normal to have the Portuguese Man-O-War on South Florida Beaches from November through early March, but ocean rescue is expecting a larger than normal congregation of these venomous sea creatures over the upcoming weekend due to strong onshore winds. Ocean lifeguards are also warning of a high potential of rip currents due to these same winds. Palm Beach Ocean Rescue will be displaying purple flags close to their posts to warn visitors of potentially dangerous sea-life in the area.
Ocean lifeguards remind visitors to avoid any contact with the balloon shaped animals, curious children should especially be watched as the animals are very colorful. Palm Beach Ocean Rescue operates a beach report hotline to call for beach conditions, including the status of the Man-O-War. The beach report phone number is (561) 835-4693 and is updated daily at 9 A.M.