By Susan Macken – March 17,2023

Some beautiful looking creatures have been visiting our local Franklin County beaches in the past few weeks. Beaches all along the Florida panhandle have recently reported strandings of Portuguese man ‘o war. I’ve encountered several on my morning walks at Carrabelle Beach. They’re easy to spot with their tropical shades of purple, pink, and blue.

These stunning animals are typically found in tropical and subtropical waters. Their only means of propulsion are ocean currents and winds and they are often observed floating in large groups. The recent strong and sustained southerly winds we experienced pushed them into our area and onto our beaches.

Resembling old warships under sail, these creatures have a balloon-like float that rises several inches above the water. These floats may be blue, pink, or even violet. Below the float and submerged under the water are long tentacles – often as long as 30 feet — containing venom. This venom paralyzes and kills small fish and crustaceans that form the man o’ war’s diet. It also causes an extremely painful and sometimes serious reaction in humans. Definitely look but don’t touch as man o’ war can still sting you days after they wash ashore.

The Deadly Portuguese Man O’ War | Blue Planet II | BBC Earth

What is a Portuguese Man o’ War?

Susan Macken is Administrative Director at Apalachicola Riverkeeper.

She especially enjoys walking along the coast each morning and admiring the many aquatic species.

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