Stinging Man-Of-War Swarm So. Fla. Beaches

FORT LAUDERDALE – (CBS4) – From afar, their blue tint provokes curiosity.

But lifeguards continue to warn beachgoers to stay away from what some are calling the largest invasion of Portuguese Man-of-War in decades. CBS4’s Peter D’Oench recently walked through a Broward beach along the 1300 block of A1A spotting hundreds of them.

Within minutes, D’Oench and his crew found victims of their stings. One such victim was Gigi Bouchard.

“I was afraid. What is that?” Bouchard said.

Another beachgoer said her toe burned.

“I looked at my toe. It was all red,” said Francine Roibitaille.

Purple flags flew high warning swimmers of the dangers and southerly winds of at least 5 mph have blown in more Man-of-War. Its sting can be serious.

“It burned, like a small sunburn,” said Matt Piersall, who was stung by one of them. “That burn lasted six to eight hours.”

Mike Garcia, a medical assistant, said symptoms could include shortness of breath.

“Respiratory problems, if you’re allergic to stings. It can cause problems for your lower extremities. It can even close up the esophagus,” Garcia said.

One lifeguard said you could be allergic to a Man-of-War sting if you’re allergic to bees, said Breck Ballou, of Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue.

“My medical director has us using vinegar,” Ballou said. “Then we first take the tentacles off. We remove the tentacles.”

If you should experience a sting, lifeguards often have gels and other solutions to help.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Peter D'Oench

More From CBS Miami

Get Set With Lissette
Weather Forecast 24/7

Listen Live