Hundreds of Portuguese Man-Of-War spotted on Tutuila coast
Hundreds of Portuguese Man-Of-War (jellyfish) were spotted yesterday morning at one of the coastal areas of Tutuila, prompting the Department of Marine of Wildlife Resources to issue a notice to the public of what to do in the event they encounter or get stung by these harmful creatures.
In a news release DMWR advises the public about the recent reports of harmful jellyfish in local waters that are washing up on our shores.
The most common jellyfish found in American Samoa waters is the hydroid jellyfish, however a recent sighting of hundreds of Portuguese Man-Of-War jellyfish floating in the current has raised concern for swimmers and beachgoers.
“It is suspected that they are present in large numbers due to the strong winds which are pushing them closer to shore,” said DMWR.
It explains that the Portuguese Man-Of-War is easily recognizable as it has dark blue tentacles, which range between 30 to 100 feet long. “The tentacles are attached to a gas bladder which floats on the water surface, however some of the tentacles break free and are difficult to see until you feel the painful sting.”
The animal is also known as the “Blue Bottle” in other parts of the world, and is not a real jellyfish, it is a hydrozoan which is more closely related to fire coral, the news release says.
DMWR cites the “Risk to Humans”, and asks the public to refrain from touching the animals even if they wash up on the beaches.
“The tentacles still contain potent neurotoxin which will cause painful red welts accompanied by swelling and moderate to severe pain which can last for 2 to 3 days,” it says. In very rare cases a severe allergic reaction may interfere with cardiac and respiratory functions, in such cases seek immediate medical treatment at the LBJ Medical Center.
DMWR also provides ‘first aid’ tips when stung by the animal:
• Avoid rubbing the affected area,
• Remove tentacles using gloves and tweezers,
• Once the tentacles or any remnants have been removed, flush the area with seawater, and
• Apply heat. Use the hottest water you can tolerate without scalding.
• If severe allergic reaction occurs, seek emergency medical assistance.
NOTE: DO NOT use vinegar, as it has been known to cause increased pain.
If the public has questions or to report sightings call DMWR at 633-4456.