Area beaches on the look out for Portuguese Man of Wars

By: Chelsea Priest

When hundreds of people flocked to Horseneck Beach in Westport today, they were given a warning, “Be careful of the man of wars.” Portuguese man of wars, a blue-ish, purple-ish jellyfish-like creature with venomous tentacles stung a dozen people at Horseneck on Thursday.

Horseneck Beach lifeguard, Sean Sweeney, says, “It kind of looks like a blue or purple bag that floated up, just kind of be aware of it and stay away.”

Eleven of the twelve stings were cleaned out and treated right at the beach. One girl stung had a more severe reaction and had to be taken to the hospital.

The beach was crowded today, but after hearing of the man of wars, many beach goes used some extra caution, some wouldn't go in the water at all. One beach goer says, “I'm staying in my chair, up to my ankles is as far as I'm going.” Another says, “I was a little concerned at first but I figured it's such a beautiful day I don't want to waste it. I won't go as deep, probably to the knees.”

Others are taking their chances and not letting the scare keep them from the water. When asked it the reports of stings would keep this beach goer from the water, he said, “No, it's not, it's too hot out here.” Another said “I'll still go in, maybe I won't get stung.”

The man of wars normally reside in warmer waters but experts say it's likely a warm ocean current that brought them this way. Sweeney says, “It is the ocean, so they are out there.”

The man of wars can sting even when they are washed up on shore, so if you see one be sure to report it to a lifeguard.