Portuguese Man o' War at Palm Beach FL  | Volkan Yuksel for Wikiimedia Commons
Portuguese Man o’ War at Palm Beach FL | Volkan Yuksel for Wikiimedia Commons

With droves of beachgoers expected to venture out to the ocean on the upcoming hot and sunny weekend, first responders are on the alert for patients who may be stung by highly venomous Portuguese man of war jellyfish.

A seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old boy were stung the jellyfish on Fire Island earlier this week, and the Long Island Coastal Conservation Research Alliance has reported that Portuguese men of war have been spotted on the bay and ocean in Montauk, at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays and at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon.

Portuguese men of war have a large, sail-like appendage on their tops that can propel them through the water, and their long blue tentacles can sting even after they die.

They are usually found in open waters in the tropics, but can be carried on the Gulf Stream up the Eastern Seaboard in the summer. Numerous men of war were seen last week along the Jersey Shore. 

In an alert to emergency responders today, Suffolk County’s Regional EMS Council (REMSCO) said the sting from a Portuguese man of war is extremely painful, and if left untreated, could cause a systemic reaction. They can also pierce the skin of their victims and release venom under their skin, which can cause serious injury. The danger of the sting is proportional to the victim’s age and the area in which they are stung. Women and children are considered to be of greatest risk due to the lower surface area of their skin.

Symptoms range from immense pain at the sting site to abdominal pain, chest pain, changes in heart rate, headaches, muscle pain/spasm, numbness/weakness, difficulty swallowing, raised/red/soft tissue injury at sting site(s), runny nose/watery eyes and collapse.

The Suffolk County Health Department is warning bathers to stay away from the jellyfish if they see them and notify the lifeguard and to immediately seek first aid if you are stung, and to contact EMTs if you feel you are having a severe reaction to the sting.




Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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