MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Watch where you step while walking the beach!
Multiple Portuguese Man o’ War and blue buttons have been seen on Grand Strand beaches.
WMBF viewers said they saw the Portuguese Man o’ Wars washed onshore at the Myrtle Beach State Park, near 40th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach and near 13th Avenue North in Surfside Beach.
Myrtle Beach State Park Ranger Anne Wilson said both are rare and exciting finds right now on the sand.
She said the recent storms have churned the ocean to bringing in all sorts of sea life, which is why a purple flag was flying Thursday at Grand Strand beaches. Purple flags mean sea life hazards are in the water, and you can only go in waist-deep.
“Whether or not you know what kind of jelly it is, you have to assume that it’s going to sting. And keep in mind... Portuguese Man o’ Wars aren’t even true jellies. It’s not one animal. It’s a colony of animals. But that’s a whole different whacky story, right? But, alive or dead, Portuguese Man o’ Wars can sting, and it’s not a mild sting. And because of everybody’s different body chemistry, Portuguese Man o’ Wars can affect people in many, many, many different ways,” Wilson explained.
She said she had found about eight of the creatures Thursday, which is still more than usual. The creatures can sting whether dead or alive, and have tentacles that can grow up to 165 feet long, according to National Geographic.
The National Weather Service also sent out an alert on Thursday that hundreds of Portuguese Man o’ Wars had washed up in North Myrtle Beach. The city confirmed one had tentacles 16 feet long, while another had tentacles 25 feet long. Lifeguards were removing them as they washed ashore.
Wilson said if you’re stung, to never put cold, freshwater on the sting. She said vinegar or cold sand is known to help the pain.
The Portuguese Man o’ War is named because of its resemblance to an 18-century Portuguese warship under full sail, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.