Huge, Dangerous Creatures Invade Southern New England's Coastal Waters!
Now that the sun is out you might be thinking about going for a swim at the beach, except that if you go to Rhode Island or adjacent parts of Massachusetts you should worry about encountering a Portuguese man-of-war.
At least 15 of these enormous, dangerous siphonophores have been seen at beaches in Little Compton, Rhode Island, in the last few days; they’ve also been in Westpost, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that the 15 at Little Compton compares to about a half a dozen in the area over the past decade:
Portuguese men-of-war traditionally live in tropical and subtropical waters but drift to the north Atlantic on the Gulf Stream, said Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium. While not common in the region, they are occasionally spotted off the southern coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, off the south-facing side of Cape Cod, and off Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, as water temperatures rise in late summer, he said.
The recent, unstable weather patterns could explain their early, more frequent arrival on New England shores. Warmer air has been moving up from the South for nearly a week, said Alan Dunham, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton.
… The tentacles can sting even when the man-of-war is dead and washed up on the beach. Although its sting is believed to be potentially fatal, the man-of-war has no known record of killing people. But the danger is that some people could have an allergic reaction to the venom, could go into shock, panic, or drown.
Sounds like something worth avoiding.