Declaration of 'war': Be alert: Painful 'blue bottle jellyfish' are lurking in our waters

Dozens of Portuguese man-of-wars have washed ashore on Hilton Head beaches. One of the creatures has been reported at Seabrook Island. File

Dozens of sea creatures thought to be the dreaded Portuguese man-of-war have drifted ashore on Hilton Head Island, where one beach-goer was stung, town officials said.

And that's just for starters.

"Beach Services reported over 100 washed up in various locations Monday," said Steve Riley, town of Hilton Head Island manager.

Fewer than 20 of the critters came ashore Tuesday morning at Hilton Head. People entering the ocean in the South Beach area were warned about the possibility of encountering the bubble and tentacle creatures.

Meanwhile, a sea animal that a blogger identified as a Portuguese man-of-war was spotted Monday on the beach at Seabrook Island, but no more sightings were reported Tuesday, officials said.

David Whittaker, assistant deputy director of the state Marine Resources Division, examined photos from Hilton Head and Seabrook to evaluate the situation.

"It could very well be the Portuguese man-of-war," Whittaker said.

People in the ocean need to be aware of the potential risk, he said.

"I think they should be extremely cautious if they see these bladders floating along with the water," he said. "The tentacles can reach many feet. You can certainly be vulnerable to a very severe sting."

The Hilton Head beach-goer stung Monday was a female in her 40s. She was treated at the scene and was OK, officials said.

Officials at other Charleston area beaches, including Edisto, Folly, Sullivan's Island, the Isle of Palms and north to Myrtle Beach, reported seeing no sea animals wash ashore that looked like the Portuguese man-of-war Tuesday.

Tybee Island, Ga., officials reported a swarm of Portuguese man-of-war sightings over the weekend.

They are sometimes found in groups of 1,000 or more, and most commonly move by drifting on currents by the power of the wind. The bulbs of the animals can run as big as a basketball, while their painful tentacles can stretch for dozens of feet below the water.

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