JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The St Augustine Police Department posted a message warning beach goers of risks along the coastline today including Portuguese man o' wars and a moderate risk for rip currents.
People planning on visiting the beaches this weekend are asked to be on the lookout for the animals in the water and on the shoreline, as their tentacles can deliver a painful sting.
Man-O-War are not jellyfish, but an animal made up of a colony of organisms known as a siphonophore. It is most prevalent on the Florida east coast from November to March. They consist of a blue colored bladder-like balloon with tentacles, which reach out below the surface of the water up to 40 feet long.
Coming into contact with the tentacles can cause a painful sting lasting 2 hours. Some Man-O-War stings have even been deadly in some cases.
If stung, peel or wipe the tentacles off as quickly as possible. Apply vinegar or warm water to the affected area. Seek further aid from lifeguards or call 911 if you are susceptible to allergic reactions from insect stings.
Lifeguards told News4Jax that despite popular belief, urinating on a Man-O-War sting will not help.
There is moderate risk for rip currents along our shoreline today, the National Weather Service recommends not getting into the water due to dangerous rip currents and high surf.
Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as groins, jetties, and piers.
Rip currents are defined as relatively small-scale surf-zone currents (usually 50 to 100 feet wide), moving away from the beach. They can be thought of as small rivers in the ocean, moving away from shore. Rip currents can form along any beach or coastline where breaking waves occur, but are most common near low spots or breaks in sandbars, and near structures such as groins, jetties and piers -- especially a few hours before and after low tide.
They form as a result of breaking waves trapping water between the beach and a sandbar or other underwater features. In order to return to sea, the trapped water converges into a narrow channel moving away from the shore at a high speed.