Unique Creatures Called Portuguese Man Of War Washing Up On North Carolina Beaches

Just a few hours after we reported about the discovery of a rare 10-foot long Oarfish in New Zealand, visitors to several North Carolina beaches are reporting sightings of a unique creature washing up on the beaches. The creatures look like jellyfish, but on closer inspection, turn out to be different animals. Following investigation by local experts, it was found that the creatures were actually an unique animal known as the Portuguese Man Of War. So far, there have been reports of several Portuguese Man Of War sightings from Wrightsville, Kure, and Carolina beaches, WECT News. There were also reports of sightings from the Gulf Shores last weekend.

The creatures are beautiful to look at, but is known to pack a painful sting. People have been warned to stay away from them in case they chance upon them on beaches. According to Wikipedia, Portuguese Man Of War are often mistaken for jellyfish. It belongs to a class of organisms known as siphonophore. Siphonophores are not single multicellular organisms, but a colony of specialized individuals known as zooids. All of them come together to act like a single, multicellular creature. Another unique thing about these creatures is the fact that the individual zooids in isolation are not capable of independent survival.

Like already mentioned, if you come across a Portuguese Man Of War, it would be a wise thing to stay away from them. The species are known to possess venomous tentacles that pack a powerful sting.

It is unclear as to why these creatures are being washed up on beaches in North Carolina. The only explanation came from Matt Babineau, a Jellyfish Expert who believes that severe weather and an increase on the intensity of wind in the ocean could be considered a cause of these sightings. He added that a beached Portuguese Man Of War cannot be saved once it is on land. The creature is, on most occasions, damaged and will eventually die. However, their tentacles remain active and it is not uncommon for people to get stung by seemingly dead Portuguese Man Of Wars.

“They can’t be rescued. Once it’s up onshore, it’s going to be damaged, it will die. Even though it’s dead on the beach, you can still get stung.”

In case you have been stung by a Portuguese man of War, you would need to first remove the tentacles from the skin and head to a doctor. While several people suggest applying some vinegar and warm water to the wound, there are others who warn against that treatment. According to them, vinegar could increase the rate of toxin delivery.

North Carolina resident? Have you found any Portuguese Man Of War on the beaches near you?

[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]