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Padre Island National Seashore warns of Portuguese man of war on beaches

Posted at 9:47 PM, Feb 13, 2019

The weather has been warming up and more tourists are making their way to the local beaches.  The Padre Island National Seashore has a warning for beachgoers.

Watch out for the Man O’ Wars!

The national park posted to its Facebook page last week that a copious amount of the venomous sea creatures are washing up on the shoreline.  And even though they are dead, they can still sting.  The post explains that man-of-  wars are not actually jellyfish though they are often mistaken as such.  They are actually siphonophores.  These are multicellular organisms while the jellyfish is a single cellular organism.

The park’s post explains further:

A man of war is actually a colony of four different organisms that live together to survive. There’s the float so it can move, the tentacles that sting to paralyze prey, the tentacles in charge of eating, and the reproductive system. They’re a pretty amazing creature, as long as you keep your distance!

Several Facebook users commented that a quick relief to the sting is to urinate on the infected area.  The park says not so fast.  Urine actually intensifies the sting.

It can actually make it worse! Applying a liquid of different salinity can cause the cells to release more toxin. The same can happen with fresh water. If you don’t have access to vinegar (which deactivates the proteins in the cells) use salt water to wash the area of the sting.

The Padre Island National Seashore recommends rinsing off the affected area with a mixture of meat tenderizer and vinegar or just vinegar, however, some isolated studies show vinegar can also worsen the sting.  If these items are not readily available, the fastest go-to treatment is saltwater.  Do not use fresh water.

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Posted by Padre Island National Seashore on Thursday, February 7, 2019