Just the name Portuguese man o’ war is intimidating, but the venomous sea creatures are apparently finding their way onto South Carolina beaches by the dozens, scaring vacationers.
And the creatures are as dangerous dead as they are alive, experts say.
The Isle of Palms sent out proof Thursday, with a tweet that shows a man o’ war found on their beach this week, and it resembles a big purple balloon with veins. The photo is accompanied by a warning that “their sting is excruciatingly painful and even dead ones sting.”
“If you get stung, get help from a Beach Services Officer or lifeguard right away,” the Isle of Palms added in a separate tweet. “Remain still to avoid further release of toxins into body.”
Little wonder the man o’ war is also known as “the floating terror.”
Their gas-filled bulbs, or “floats,” can be as big as a basketball, with a bright purple-blue color. And their venomous tentacles can stretch for dozens of feet and administer a sting that can be deadly, experts say.
Reports, both confirmed and unconfirmed, say dozens have washed up on beaches in South Carolina in recent weeks, including Hilton Head, Kiawah Island, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island.
Marine Science experts are blaming offshore winds that likely pushed the creatures up the coast. They usually are not found in near-shore waters, wildlife officials say.
Oh, and if you’re headed to the beach this weekend, keep in mind that the man o’ war is sometimes found in groups of 1,000 or more, reports the Charleston Post and Courier.