A beachcomber discovered a Portuguese Man-O-War today in Island Beach State Park.
JSHN contributor Jennifer Daley discovered the “siphonophore,” a blueish, bulbous colony composed of many individual animals commonly mistaken for a true jellyfish, washed up on the beach.
Dr. Paul Bologna, a marine ecology professor at Montclair State University, confirmed the identification.
“I am guessing if this one arrived, lots more will be showing up when [Hurricane Matthew] comes north. New Jersey missed them this year; the Gulf Stream carried them to Europe (British Isles),” he wrote in a reply to our query.
The Portuguese Man-O-War is a predatory siphonophore that gets its name from the float, a gas-filled bladder that can grow up to a foot in length and rise out of the water up at six inches. The creature has very long tentacles that can grow up to 32 feet.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Portuguese Man-O-War can inflict “extremely painful stings,” resulting in a severe shooting pain. Treatment advice is available here.
While commonly found in the tropics, their presence is not unheard of in regional waters.
Numerous were found washed ashore on New Jersey beaches last summer.
One study found that 50 million people swim in the waters off the United States annually, while an expert noted 50 deaths per year attributed to jellyfish worldwide.