Portuguese Man of War (Physalia physalis)

photo of Portuguese Man-O-War, copyright J. Keller 2007

Many thanks to J. Keller for sending in this beautiful photo of a Portuguese Man-O-War on Cocoa Beach, Florida. Copyright © J. Keller.

Probably the most dangerous jellyfish in Florida is the Portuguese Man of War [Physalia]. It is unmistakable, even if you’ve never seen a jellyfish before. It has a clear inflatable float that stays on top of the water like a little balloon. The rest of the animal is purple, and the purple tentacles can dangle underneath and behind the jellyfish for 50 to 200 feet, depending on the size of the jellyfish. 

Ocean Care Solutions Marine Sting First Aid Kit Logo  Ocean Care Solutions provides effective, medically supported First-aid pain relief products for marine stings including Portuguese Man O War, Stingray, Sea Urchin, Fire Coral and, a variety of jellyfish sting injuries. Ocean Care Solutions Marine Sting First Aid Kits 
man o war jellyfish picture from puerto rico

At left is a photo of a man-o-war sent to BeachHunter by Priscilla from  Puerto Rico. The photo was taken on Playa Ballena, Guánica, Puerto Rico. Priscilla and her friend saw the jellyfish in the water and went near it to have a closer look. The beast stung her friend on the foot, and when Priscilla tried to help, she got stung on the hand and foot. The next day she had what she described as "stains" on various parts of her body, even where she felt no pain. She ended up going to the hospital with chest pains and abnormal blood pressure. Fortunately she got better and is O.K.

Thank you Priscilla, for sharing your story and the photo with everyone. I'm sure you won't be going near jellyfish again soon.

Photo: Copyright © Priscilla de Llovio 2007

Portuguese Man-of-War. Image by Sarah K. Obrien

Above is a fantastic photo of a Man-O-War on the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Photo copyright: Sarah Obrien. of the jellyfish.

Portuguese Man of War tentacles

Here's a closeup of the Man of War tentacles.

Man-o-war are common along the lower east coast of Florida during periods of east and southeast winds. They are blown onshore by the thousands. If you swim near lifeguards, pay attention to the signs on the lifeguard towers before entering the water. They will normally give warnings when dangerous marine creatures are present. Thank you, Julee, for the great photo of this man-of-war!

To see photos of what a severe sting from a Man of War looks like and to read several first-hand accounts of being stung, visit www.portuguesemanofwar.com.

Clearwater Beach lifeguard stung by Portuguese Man-of-War (article in St. Pete Times) - "When it first hit me, it felt like a hot knife going in," said Moeller, who has monitored Clearwater's shorelines for the past five years. "The pain, it was bad, really bad."

He was rushed to the beach's nearby fire station where they hooked him up to a saline IV and treated his body with alcohol. As fire rescue crews monitored his heart rate, he became dizzy and even briefly passed out.


Copyright: David McRee, BeachHunter.net