South Jersey Man O’ War Sightings – Five Things You Should Know
The sighting of a Portuguese man-of-war on a Wildwood Crest beach this week and anecdotal reports of other local sightings of Man o' Wars had us scurrying to find out the best ways to avoid getting stung and to figure out exactly what a Man O' War, anyway.
Here are five things you should know about the Portuguese Man O' War:
1- The man-of-war is not a jellyfish. They’re a "siphonophore", a single animal made of a colonial of organisms working together.
2- Because they are most commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, the man- of- war is not normally seen in South Jersey, but every few years water temperatures warm up to a point that make them man-of-war friendly. This is one of those summers!
3- The man-of-war is made up of four polyps. One is full of stinging cells. They’re used to catch prey such as smaller fish, plankton, and crustaceans. But, if you get too close, you will feel their wrath, and with tentacles averaging 50 feet, but capable of being 165 feet long, you don't need to be all that close.
4- A man-of-war that have washed up on shore can still sting you. Even when the creature is dead, the stinging cells are still capable of stinging you, so don't touch it, dummy!
5- Don't pee on the sting -- it doesn't work! You may have heard that peeing on a man-of- war or jellyfish sting makes the stinging sensation go away, but that's not the case. Urine might actually make things worse, plus it's gross! Here's what one expert says to do: Before soaking a sting in water, remove any tentacles stuck to the skin by dousing the site with seawater. Be careful not to touch the tentacles with your bare hands, and don't scrape them off your skin with objects like a credit card or razor, because that could increase pressure around the sting.