Toxic Portuguese man o' war popping up on Florida beaches: What to know

Watch your step on your next trip to Florida's coast: Portuguese man o' war are popping up on beaches!

They are typically blue, pink, or violet and are extremely toxic. Experts say their tentacles can extend as much as 100-feet. In fact, experts say man o' war cells can still fire even if they're dead.

"'Man o’ war,' you just don’t mess with them. Just like anything else in the ocean," Terry Bartley of New Smyrna Beach said after some were found on the beach there in February. 

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"I got stung by one not too long ago. It had a tentacle line across my arm. I didn’t have to go to the hospital or anything. It’s aggravating," Kevin O’Donnell of New Smyrna Beach said.


According to the school of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii, the best thing to do if stung by a man o’ war is to rinse the sting with vinegar, remove any tentacles, and put hot water or a hot pack on the sting for 45 minutes.

"The man o’ war can be very painful if you get stung by them, so we do encourage people if you get stung by a man o’ war to exit the water and flag down a lifeguard," Tamra Malphurs of Volusia Beach Patrol said.

The good news is they're rarely deadly to humans, but you still want to avoid them.

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