Portuguese Man-of-War Blowing in the Wind
Plenty of these planktonic siphonophores are around this summer, but so far they’ve been limited to the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and their offshore islands. Portuguese men-of-war rely on the winds and currents for mobility, so for one to reach the Sound, a wind would have to funnel it through the Race.
The unlikelihood of that seemed reasonable to me, until I read this story, in the Block Island Times. Two Portuguese men-of-war have been found on the island – one in Dorry’s Cove, an open cove on the west side, the other the island’s Great Salt Pond, the inlet of which is almost narrow enough to throw a stone across. (The Great Salt Pond is the big blue water body on the accompanying map; the inlet is on the west side.) Obviously it took a combination of luck and favorable winds, but if a man-of-war can make it into the Great Salt Pond, it can make it into Long Island Sound.
The personal bad news is that the winds blew the creature to the north, where it ended up on a beach near a dirt road called Andy’s Way. That part of the Great Salt Pond is one of the most benign and beautiful locales I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been planning to spending a fair amount of time there in two weeks, digging clams, watching shorebirds, and feeling the minnows swim over and around my feet.