Several Man O' War Spotted Along South Padre Island Coast

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – It's a mini-invasion of sea creatures on South Padre Island.

"They aren't actually jellyfish but they do pack a strong sting," said Cameron County Beach Patrol Chief Art Hurtado.

They’re known as the Portuguese Man O' War. 

Hurtado said several are being spotted on South Padre Island this week. It’s enough to spark a warning.

But this Warning is something beachgoer John Teijerina knows all too well.

"Yes, when I was a kid I was stung by 2," he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Teijerina said he and his family saw several of this morning. 

"We just came to have fun as a family before spring break," he said.

While they look like jellyfish, they technically are not.

"They function the exact same way but this is technically a colony of organisms that are formed together and evolve together to function. But they work exactly like a jellyfish," said Hurtado.

He added their stings are just as harmful.

Hurtado advises if you do get stung, don't panic. He said you're going to want to wash out where ever you got stung with vinegar.

"You want to avoid irritating the actual area. You don't want to put ice, you just want to wash it off with some salt water," he explained.

Hurtado is urging people going to the beach to be aware.

"If they are in the water they actually have very long tentacles. They could be a few feet long so even though you can see them at a distance they might be able to still sting you," said Hurtado. “If you see them on the shoreline you still don't want to be in contact with them. Just like any wildlife, you don't want to be in contact with.”

Hurtado said the Man O' War travels via wind and water currents. He expects them to be gone by the end of the week.

This means beachgoers like Teijerina won’t have to worry about them for too long.

Hurtado said while the Man O' War is made up of several different organisms it has 4 main functions: floating, capturing prey, feeding, and reproduction. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they are found mostly in tropical and subtropical seas. Their tentacles average 30 feet in length.

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