Late-season at Jersey Shore: Beware the man o’ war!
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — Late season beach goers may have an unwelcome guest in the form of the Portuguese man o' war.
The jellyfish-like creatures were likely washed up onto the beach by powerful Hurricane Florence, which churned up the ocean for several weeks as it approached the United States, according to Paul Bologna, director of the Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program at Montclair State University.
"Please know that they can still give a nasty sting even when washed up," Bologna said on his Facebook page: New Jersey Jellyspotters. He did not specify the beach.
The creature —so named because it resembles the sails of an 18th century armed vessel — is small but contact with its tentacles, which can drag behind it for 30 feet, “will result in a painful, intense sting, welting, and blistering,” according to the National Marine Sanctuaries.
Bologna said the man o' war began appearing annually on Jersey Shore beaches four years ago.
In addition, clinging jellyfish, which are anywhere from the size of a dime to a quarter, appeared in many non-ocean coastal areas this summer. They are not native to New Jersey. They, too, can cause severe pain, muscle cramping and other localized symptoms.
One place the man o' war did not appear in recent days was Harvey Cedars. Instead, a coconut washed up, according to beach patrol spokesman Brian Devlin.
Devlin wasn't sure where the coconut came from.
"I am guessing it was washed up from Florence along with the man o' war."