"Swarms" of Portuguese Man O' War Wash Up in Myrtle Beach
Trust us: you do not want to step on one of these guys!
Experts are warning beachgoers to watch where they step along the Grand Strand.
Recent storms have been churning the waters off the coast of Myrtle Beach, causing potentially dangerous sea life to wash up onto beaches.
Last week, the National Weather Service received a report from a North Myrtle Beach lifeguard that “a couple hundred” Portuguese man o' war washed ashore, with one’s tentacles measuring a staggering 16 feet.
The report inspired a social media post from the Myrtle Beach Fire Department on Monday, advising the public that swarms of Portuguese man o' war are possible along the beaches. Swimmers are encouraged to remain out of the ocean while large numbers of the predatory species remain in the area.
Though they are often mischaracterized as jellyfish, Portuguese man o' war are actually siphonophores: colonial organisms consisting of numerous individual parts known as zooids. They feed by stinging and paralyzing small fishes with their long, venomous tentacles. Coming in contact with their tentacles can be extremely painful, and in rare cases, cause death.
Be careful out there, y’all!