Portuguese Man o' War washes up on New Jersey beach

Rare Portuguese Man O' War Washes Up On New Jersey Beach

HARVEY CEDARS, N.J. — Watch where you step, beachgoers. A Portuguese Man o' War washed up on the Jersey Shore on the first day of summer, prompting lifeguards to sound the alarm that potentially painful creatures are lurking in the waters nearby.

"When the wind is coming from the northeast, warm water from the Gulf Stream comes to shore. With the warm water, often comes seaweed (and) critters from down south," The Harvey Cedars Beach patrol said in a Facebook post with a photo of the bright purple creature.

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Portuguese Man o' War found on beach
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Portuguese Man o' War washes up on New Jersey beach
Portrait of a Portuguese man-of war (Physalia physalis), Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, (Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)
Photo credit: PIX11
Photo credit: PIX11
Photo credit: PIX11
1946: A Portuguese Man-of-War (Physlia arethusa), with its inflated float above the water, and tentacles hanging down below the surface. (Photo by Douglas P. Wilson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Portuguese Man o' War can grow up to 1 foot long and 5 inches wide, but their tentacles can stretch as long as 165 feet, according to National Geographic. Because they have no way of propelling themselves forward, the creatures drift on currents or catch the wind to travel through warm ocean waters.

Though an ominous reputation precedes them, Portuguese Man o' War rarely kill the unfortunate humans who come into contact with their tentacles, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Their stings, however, can leave bright red, whip-like lashes on their victims and be extremely painful. In some cases, a trip to the hospital may be necessary.

Symptoms of a Man o' War sting can range in severity and include:

Abdominal pain
Changes in pulse
Chest pain
Collapse
Headache
Muscle pain and muscle spasms
Numbness and weakness
Pain in the arms or legs
Raised red spot where stung
Runny nose and watery eyes
Swallowing difficulty
Sweating

To treat a Man o' War sting, first call over a lifeguard. Apply salt water only to the wound,according to the Journal of Emergency Nursing. Fresh water will make it worse, as will rubbing the sting, the journal notes.

Beachgoers are urged to be aware of their surroundings and alert a lifeguard if they spot a Man o' War or any other jellyfish. Experts advise those looking to soak up the sun along the coast to avoid swimming in water known to harbor jellyfish.

Related: Check out these 'moon jellyfish' that can rearrange their limbs:

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Moon jellyfish
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Portuguese Man o' War washes up on New Jersey beach
Moon Jellyfish are illuminated by coloured lights at the Beijing Aquarium on May 30, 2012. The aquarium is the largest in China and shaped like a huge conch shell. State media named it a 'Beijing civilized Tourist Scenic Spot' and it houses more than 1,000 marine species and freshwater fish. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/GettyImages)
Mature Moon Jellyfish float at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on April 26, 2012.The Aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species. It focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.The non-profit Aquarium sees 1.5 million visitors a year and has a total staff of over 900 people including more than 300 employees and about 650 volunteers.AFP PHOTO /JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)
SEAHOUSES, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: A Moon jellyfish swims beneath the waters of Inner Farne on June 26, 2011 at the Farne Islands, England. The Farne Islands, which are run by the National Trust, are situated two to three miles off the Northumberland coastline. The archipeligo of 16-28 separate islands (depending on the tide) make the summer home to approximately 100,000 pairs of breeding seabirds including around 36,000 Puffins, 32,000 Guillemots and 2,000 pairs of Arctic Terns. The species of birds which nest in internationally important numbers include Shag, Sandwich Tern and Arctic Tern. The coastline around The Farnes are also the breeding ground to one of Europe's largest Grey Seal colonies with around 4,000 adults giving birth to 1500 pups every year. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A miniature Moon Jellyfish glows at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on April 26, 2012.The Aquarium features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species. It focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.The non-profit Aquarium sees 1.5 million visitors a year and has a total staff of over 900 people including more than 300 employees and about 650 volunteers.AFP PHOTO /JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages)
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