The Marion Harbormaster Department in Marion, Massachusetts, has issued a warning to beachgoers in the Buzzards Bay area after a Portuguese man o’ war was found washed up on the sand.
A Portuguese man o’ war was found washed up on a Massachusetts beach, causing concern. The harbormaster advised that anyone stung by a man o’ war should seek immediate medical attention and said that beachgoers should “keep a watchful eye.”
The highly venomous Portuguese man o’ war is often called a jellyfish but is actually a species closely related to jellyfish. It is most known and feared for its stinging tentacles that can grow to 100 feet long.
When touched, those tentacles deliver a venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. While the venom is rarely fatal to humans, it causes intense pain and raised welts on the skin. It can also result in nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
It is worth noting, if you are in the Buzzards Bay area or anywhere else where man o’ wars have ended up, that urinating on a jellyfish sting to alleviate the pain is just a myth.
“Despite what you may have heard, it’s a myth that peeing on a jellyfish sting does anything to ease the pain,” the Cleveland Clinic stated. “Not only are there no studies to support this idea, but urine may worsen the sting, too.”
Why is this concerning?
While the dangerous ocean creature is usually found in warmer waters, changing climates and the overheating of our planet have resulted in a lot of marine life ending up in places where it is not usually found, causing ripple effects throughout many ecosystems.
Changing temperatures have also resulted in an influx of Portuguese man o’ war in other areas. In 2019, more than 2,600 people off the coast of Queensland, Australia, received treatment for man o’ war stings. Man o’ war sightings have also reportedly increased along the British coast.
In 2016, Cork, Ireland, experienced “one of the largest infestations of the Portuguese Man-of-War land on our western seaboard in over a hundred years,” according to Irish Water Safety, which attributed the infestation to “tropical maritime air [and] very little northerly winds” combined with unusually high water temperatures.
What is being done about it?
Burning dirty energy is the leading cause of the overheating of our planet, which in turn has led to rising ocean temperatures and changes to marine ecosystems. To stop these harmful changes from worsening, it is vital to eliminate our dependency on dirty energy sources, turning instead to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
To help the oceans on an individual level, the Smithsonian advises using non-toxic cleaning products, buying produce grown without pesticides, and using as little fertilizer as possible for yard maintenance to prevent nutrient runoff that leads to algae blooms.
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