Portuguese men of war are hitting SC beaches. Here’s what you need to know.
Tourists headed to the popular coastal community of Sullivan’s Island near Charleston are being warned about Portuguese men-of-war, both in the water and on the beach.
Town leaders put out the advisory after receiving phone calls about sightings on area beaches this week, reported TV station WCIV.
"While there have been no reports of stings, several man o' war have been been identified," town officials told WCSC. "In the coming weeks beach visitors should exercise caution in the ocean and on the beach to avoid contact with the Portuguese man o' war."
Men-of-war have "long, thin tendrils" that typically extend 30 feet or more below the surface, according to National Geographic.
“They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly,” says National Geographic.
They can sting even after washing ashore, experts warn. Town officials told TV station WCIV that Portuguese man-of-war are capable of stinging “even a day or more after it has washed up onshore.”
South Carolina officials issued a similar warning for Sullivan’s Island in May of 2017, after men-of-war washed up on beaches.
That same month, up to 100 of them washed up on beaches further south near Hilton Head Island, reported the Island Packet. Experts blamed strong winds for the large numbers appearing in the sand, the newspaper reported.