Weather for the Easter Weekend will be cooperating, offering many opportunities to enjoy our many miles of open beaches; however, Historic City News was informed that St Johns County Marine Rescue is responding to an increased number of calls dealing with swimmers who have sustained severely painful and potentially dangerous Portuguese Man o’ War stings.
The venom in the sting of a Portuguese Man o’ War is similar to snake venom and the tentacles can deliver a severely painful sting that can last for two hours. The skin can become blistered and the muscle tissue can be affected.
“If you are stung, peel or wipe the tentacles off as quickly as possible,” paramedics with St Johns County Fire Rescue advise. “Apply vinegar or warm water to the affected area and seek further aid from lifeguards or call 911 if you have allergic reactions to insect stings.”
The Portuguese Man o’ War is most prevalent on the Florida east coast from November to March. The mid-April appearance is not usual. It may be the result of persistent onshore flow over the past several days.
Man o’ War are not jellyfish, but an animal made up of a colony of organisms known as a Siphonophore. They consist of a blue colored bladder-like balloon with tentacles, which reach out below the surface of the water up to 40-feet long.