BOSTON — A Portuguese man o’ war was spotted off the coast of Massachusetts earlier this week, prompting the temporary closure of a beach.
The highly venomous ocean predator was spotted at Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Westport, according to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The beach was reopened to swimming and other activities on Tuesday following an assessment of the water in the area.
While the man o’ war isn’t usually lethal to humans, its massive tentacles can pack a punch.
Here are five facts to know from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in case you encounter a man o’ war at your local beach:
- The Portuguese man o’ war is often called a jellyfish, but is actually a species of siphonophore, a group of animals that are closely related to jellyfish.
- They long strands of tentacles and polyps that grow to an average of 30 feet and may extend by as much as 100 feet.
- The tentacles contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans.
- While the man o’ war’s sting is rarely deadly to people, it packs a painful punch and causes welts on exposed skin.
- The man o’ war has the ability to sting beachgoers even weeks after having washed ashore.
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