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Portuguese man-of-war invade Florida beaches

February 7, 2011 | 11:10 am


More than 450 beach-goers were treated for injuries after scores of Portuguese man-of-war washed ashore on South Florida beaches over the weekend.

"It's extreme. It is wall-to-wall man-of-war," Delray Beach ocean rescue supervisor Heather Irurzun, a 14-year veteran, told the Palm Beach Post. "I've never seen it this bad."

Delray Beach actually closed to swimmers because of the influx of the stinging creatures, and lifeguards elsewhere were flying yellow caution flags, indicating the presence of the organisms.

While Portuguese man-of-war are a rather common occurrence in ocean waters off the state between Thanksgiving and Easter, consistent southeast winds over the last several days have sent a high number toward South Florida beaches.

The above video, shot by an area resident, shows hundreds of man-of-war left on the sand by tides and is reminiscent of the tranquil nature scenes that end CBS Sunday Morning, if not for the fact of the dangerous nature of the creature's tentacles, which remain capable of delivering painful stings even when on the sand.

Authorities have urged beach-goers not to touch the dead man-of-war, even with a stick. Meanwhile, lifeguards remain at the ready, equipped with treatment gels and ointments.

-- Kelly Burgess

Video: LalaFizphotography via YouTube