For the fourth consecutive summer season, a Portuguese man-of-war has been found on a New Jersey beach.
Christine Perna Burns spotted one washed ashore in Wildwood Crest on Thursday.
The Portuguese man-of-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.
Dr. Paul Bologna, a marine ecology professor at Montclair State University, says it’s fairly common to see them in New Jersey.
The one found in Wildwood Crest is “in good shape,” Bologna said. “So we need to be very careful.”
“The question really is are they increasing in the tropics, so we just see more? Or is the Gulf Stream just a little closer to the coast so they get ferried into the waters more easily,” Bologna said.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Portuguese man-of-war can inflict “extremely painful stings,” resulting in a severe shooting pain. Treatment advice is available here.
One study found that 50 million people swim in the waters off the United States annually, while an expert noted 50 deaths per year are attributed to jellyfish worldwide.