Venomous Portuguese man-of-wars make rare appearance on Outer Banks beaches

Posted at 8:15 AM, Oct 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-04 08:15:29-04

A Portuguese man-of-war (Wikipedia)

Venomous Portuguese man-of-wars have recently been showing up on Outer Banks beaches.

Between 20 and 30 of the Gulf Stream dwellers have washed up in Corolla, and several have been spotted on beaches south into Nags Head, according to the

Officials said the presence of the jellyfish-like creatures may be due to strong easterly winds blowing onshore for more than a week.

It is rare for these animals to blow this far north, but not unheard of, according to authorities.

“Anytime we have a wind onshore for many days, we may see these come up,” said David Elder of Kill Devil Hill Ocean Rescue. “They are very Gulf Stream specific. We may see them every year. It isn’t an acute problem, nor is it chronic.”

The Portuguese man o’ war  is a marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. It has venomous tentacles that deliver a painful sting. Even detached tentacles can sting several days after the animal has washed ashore.

It is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore – a colony of specialized minute individuals called zooids.

The zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the point that they are incapable of independent survival.