Gulf Coast officials warning spring breakers about man o’ war infestation

Officials in South Walton say they're dealing with thousands of Portuguese Man O' Wars on the...
Officials in South Walton say they're dealing with thousands of Portuguese Man O' Wars on the coast.(South Walton Fire District)
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 10:22 PM CST
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SOUTH WALTON, Fl. (WBRC) - Officials on the Gulf Coast are warning Spring Breakers heading to the area about an infestation of Portuguese Man O’ War.

The creature is similar to a jellyfish but can be more dangerous. Those with the South Walton Fire District say the venom is quite powerful and could send you to the hospital.

Beach Safety Director David Vaughan says there are thousands of man o’ war on the beaches and in the water right now, all during their first big batch of Spring Breakers. He adds these creatures are wind riders so they come with the current, sometimes unexpectedly.

Vaughan says it’s most common for those from out of town, who are unaware of the dangers out on the Gulf, to get hurt while out on the beach. These man o’ war can cause serious injury and sometimes even death.

“Statistically, one in about 10,000 people will have an anaphylactic-type allergic reaction to that where it could close up the airways,” said Vaughan. “So think bee stings needing an epi pen or something like that, like a peanut allergy. So we’ll run -- we might run a call like that.”

In a Facebook post, the SWFD says to use warm water to relieve the pain of a sting.

Vaughan says if you see a purple flag out on the beach while you’re on spring break, it means there could be dangerous marine life in the water. He warns you to stay out of the water if you see that flag.

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