Monday, March 27, 2017

Portuguese Man-of-War Invade Florida's Space Coast

COCOA BEACH, Florida - Purple flags are flying at lifeguard stands today because Portuguese Man-of-War have once again invaded Brevard County beaches over the weekend and are stinging unsuspecting Spring Breakers. 

An extended period of strong easterly winds have been blowing the Portuguese Man-of-War jelly fish (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren't jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophoraealong with heavy amounts of seaweed onto the popular tourist beaches during Spring Break 2017. 

Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War are entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.

According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, prevailing easterly winds will continue for the next few days. So, there will be a strong chance that Portuguese Man-of-War will remain along Florida's Space Coast beaches through at least Thursday.

The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified from other jellyfish in Florida by its translucent blue and purple gas-filled air sac that helps them travel long distances across the ocean by acting as a wind-driven sail.  

A violet-colored stinging tentacle cluster mass under the body can have tentacles that may extend up to ten or fifteen feet. These stinging, venom-filled tentacles are designed to paralyze small fish but can also deliver a powerful sting to humans who wade into the water or play on the beach.

Study: You're Treating Jellyfish Stings All Wrong