Changes in current patterns push thousands of Portuguese man o' war onto Florida beaches

by

comment
PHOTO VIA JESSMCORLEW/INSTAGRAM
  • Photo via jessmcorlew/Instagram
Florida's east coast is currently featuring throngs of Portuguese man o' war, stinging beachgoers and sparking warnings from authorities.

These bright blue balloon-shaped creatures are devastatingly beautiful, but should be admired from a distance. Florida Today reported many of the people stung didn't get injured while swimming, but when picking up the jellyfish lookalike.

Man o' war warnings were posted at some northern Brevard County beaches Saturday. Palm Beach County also reports the jelly-like animals are currently present on their beaches, with injuries noted as far away as Sebastian River State Park.

Resembling an 18th-century Portuguese warship, the man o' war is not actually a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which is a colony of specialized organisms that work together as one.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say man o' war are often moved by winds and ocean currents, occasionally traveling in clusters of 1,000 or more. These aquatic beauties are still able to sting even weeks after being washed ashore.