Portuguese man o’ war spotted in Sanibel

Reporter: Matt Devitt Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Despite this animal’s bright and inviting colors, you do not want to touch it.

A WINK News viewer sent in pictures of a Portuguese Man O’ War, which is related to jellyfish, along Sanibel.

Avoid them at all costs. You don’t want to be at the end of the Man O’ War’s stinger.

Their stings can be painful, lasting up to 1-3 hours, causing a burning sensation.

The National Ocean Service explained, “Each of the four specialized parts of a man o’ war is responsible for a specific task, such as floating, capturing prey, feeding, and reproduction. Found mostly in tropical and subtropical seas, men o’ war are propelled by winds and ocean currents alone, and sometimes float in legions of 1,000 or more!”

“The man o’ war is recognized by its balloon-like float, which may be blue, violet, or pink and rises up to six inches above the waterline,” said the Ocean Service. But the real danger lies beneath the surface, “Lurking below the float are long strands of tentacles and polyps that grow to an average of about 30 feet and may extend by as much as about 100 feet. The tentacles contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. While the man o’ war’s sting is rarely deadly to people, it packs a painful punch and causes welts on exposed skin.”

Dealing with a jellyfish sting

Advice from Mayo Clinic:

Diagnosing jellyfish stings generally doesn’t require a visit to a health care provider. If you do go, your provider will likely be able to diagnose your injury by looking at it.

Treatment for jellyfish stings includes first-aid care and medical treatment.

Steps to avoid:

  • Scraping out stingers
  • Rinsing with human urine
  • Rinsing with cold, fresh water
  • Applying meat tenderizer
  • Applying alcohol, ethanol or ammonia
  • Rubbing with a towel
  • Applying pressure bandages

Medical treatment

  • Emergency care. Someone having a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting may need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), life support or, if the sting is from a box jellyfish, antivenom medication.
  • Oral medicine. A delayed rash or other skin reaction may be treated with oral antihistamines or corticosteroids. You may also be given oral pain medicine.
  • Eye flushing. A jellyfish sting on or near the eye generally requires immediate medical care to control pain and flush the eye.

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