Once again, these dangerous and colorful squishies are starting to flow into east coast ocean waters. These odd creatures may look like jellyfish, but they’re actually siphonophores (which, granted, are relatives of jellyfish).
These elegant creatures are undoubtedly a stunning sight, but they’re not exactly something you’d want to meet in person. They possess dangerous, pearl-like tentacles that are 30 feet long (on average!).
In the best-case scenarios, their venom can cause immense pain; worst-case, their venom can be deadly. The invertebrate can also still sting even when it is already dead.
Though this situation is a bit scary, it’s also pretty fascinating: men o’ war usually hang out in the tropics and sub-tropics, like the Gulf of Mexico, so what are they doing in states like South Carolina? John Tiedemann, who specializes in marine ecology at Monmouth University, says it’s likely a result of the Gulf Stream, a strong current that flows from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Newfoundland.
These currents, combined with gusts of wind, push the men o’ war along an unintended journey until they land on the sea-shore. This isn’t unusual for northeastern states in the summer, but this year, there have been more sightings than usual.
That being said, those along the East Coast should probably be extra careful when visiting the beach. Talk to a lifeguard if you see or get stung by one. And if the latter happens, remove the tentacle with an object (not your hands) and wash the wound with saltwater. If you find yourself struggling to breathe, go to the hospital immediately.
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.