If You See This Beautiful Purple Thing on the Sand, Run Away Immediately

Anyone heading to beaches along the East Coast this summer is advised to be on the lookout for Portuguese man o’ war both in the water and on the shore. Relatives of jellyfish have been found washed up on several popular beaches, with the most recent sightings in the Charleston and Myrtle Beach areas of South Carolina.

If you happen to spot this beautiful purple thing on the sand, leave immediately. As lovely and exotic as the Portuguese man o’ war may appear, it poses a significant impact on human health and well-being. These marine creatures resemble pretty blue or purple bubbles floating on the water’s surface, with long, dark purple tentacles trailing from them. It’s these tentacles that make the Portuguese man o’ war so dangerous as they’re filled with venom and are highly capable of delivering a powerful and painful sting. They should be avoided whether found in the water or on the beach because even days after being washed ashore, they can still sting, no matter how long they appear dead.

A sting from one can cause a range of reactions including painful red welts, heart distress, fever, shock, an allergic reaction that can lead to difficulty breathing, paralysis, and possibly even death in extreme cases, though thankfully these are rare. If you’re unlucky enough to get stung, seek professional medical treatment and do not urinate on the area! Contrary to popular belief, that will only make it worse, and instead, you should use a cold compress to help alleviate the pain and discomfort. While bubble-shaped floating marine creatures are commonly known as a type of jellyfish, they’re actually what’s known as a siphonophore.

While jellyfish are unique multicellular organisms, siphonophores are colonial organisms. They’re made up of many different animals that are interconnected and work together, yet are still capable of swimming independently. This physiological composition is the reason why tentacles can still sting even after they’ve detached. The accompanying New Jersey TV news clip covers more interesting data and information about the Portuguese man o’ war and what scientists, beach patrols, and lifeguards are doing about it.

The Long Beach Island news report featured the story a few summers ago when they were washing up on the coast more frequently than usual, which already seems to be the case this year as well.

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