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Summer Adventures and a Portuguese Man O’ War

Melissa here. Well, summer is just ahead and I was thinking about what I had done past summers for amusement. One particular mini-vacation popped into my mind. I found myself in Emerald Island, North Carolina after a summer class had ended. When my parents and I arrived at the beach I walked up and down the beach for hours identifying things I remembered seeing in my class. I found one particularly unusual jellyfish. Looking at the jellyfish laying on the sand the bright blue with purple caught my eye. Definitely didn’t remember seeing any of those. I thought it was cool so I scooped it up in the bucket I had been carrying. I wanted to take it back to my car to identify what kind of jellyfish I had found. Before identifying it i wanted to clean off some of the sand. I assumed that it had been on the beach for a while and was probably dead. I was trying to be careful since I knew most jellyfish could still sting many hours after they washed up on the beach. As I was attempting to wash the sand off a few of the tentacles must have sneaked out of the bucket and brushed up against my foot and across my hand. I didn’t feel anything right away. When I started walking back to the car I felt something burning across my foot and hand. Sure enough, when I looked down there were bright red streak marks becoming visible. Once I got back to the car my hand and foot felt like they were on fire. I got my field guide and was shocked to see that I had found a Portuguese Man O’ War. In big bold letters under the name it said, “DO NOT TOUCH, DO NOT COLLECT”. Immediately I thought, “O crap, what have I gotten myself into?” I knew I had to tell my parents in case it got worse and they have to find me a hospital. I grabbed a bottle if ice from the cooler in the car and headed back to find mom to let her know I had a slight little problem. When I told her what had happened and showed her the red streaks, lets just say she was less than thrilled. She told me that we were keeping the “creature” in case I had to go to the hospital. I guess she wanted the blob as proof of what stung me since she had no idea what it was. After 4 hours or so it still stung and burned. By this point there was also some minor swelling. The only thing that helped a little was keeping my foot and hand iced. Around noon the next day the red streaks were still visible but it didn’t hurt anymore. I guess I was lucky that is all the reaction I got since I am allergic to bee stings.

If anyone else has any interesting beach encounters I would love to hear about them!

Image referenced from Wikipedia commons.

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