The past week, several Portuguese man-of-wars have been spotted in Jersey Shore, and authorities are warning swimmers to avoid the deadly creatures. Some of them were spotted washed up on the coastline, and some were seen in the waters.
Though man-of-wars are generally seen in tropical waters, NBC News reports that more of them will be making their way to the Jersey Shore.
The man-of-wars’ tentacles pack a painful sting that can bring death to a victim. The stings are awfully painful and, when struck, victims are left with wounds that look like they have been whipped. While many assume that man-of-wars are jellyfish, that is not the case, according to scientists. These creatures are associated with siphonophores, along with others such as hydroids and corals.
If man-of-wars typically thrive in warm climates, then why did they end up in Jersey Shore?
John Tiedamann, the director of the Marine and Environmental Biology Policy Program at Monmouth University in New Jersey, may have an idea, and he talked to LiveScience about it.
“It probably came up with the Gulf Stream and then we had a little bit of a north swell move in. So that [critter] might have drifted in.”
Director of Marine Biology at Montclair State University, Paul Bologna, warns swimmers and beachgoers of the man-of-war.
“Always be aware of your surroundings in the ocean and always swim near a lifeguard.”
Beachgoers are told to be extra careful while walking on sand, as man-of-wars are not easily seen when they are washed-up on the shore. Aside from the excruciating pain, a sting from the man-of-war can result in death, as it carries several types of toxins.
“The stinging cells are like a little trap – like a mouse trap – and they’re waiting for some stimulus to irritate them, and they’ll explode. Even when [the man-of-war] is washed up on the beach, those stinging cells are still active, and they have the potential to sting you.”
It seems that New Jersey isn’t the only place the man-of-wars are visiting. In April, the Inquisitr reported that several man-of-wars were found on North Carolina beaches.
[Photo by Douglas P. Wilson / Hulton Archive / Getty Images]