CAPE LOOKOUT, N.C. — North Carolina officials say Portuguese man o'war jellyfish are washing up on Carolina beaches and they're encouraging the public to avoid them.
South winds that have blown the past week have brought the jellyfish to the Outer Banks, Cape Lookout officials said on Facebook. Despite being a common occurrence in the Carolinas, these Portuguese man o'war jellyfish typically don't show up until later in the season.
The jellyfish looked like clear balloons, and while it may be tempting to take a closer look, don't. It only takes a moment for a jellyfish to deliver a painful sting to anyone who touches it.
"Even when they are on the beach, these stinging tentacles still work," officials said. "Stepping on one in your bare feet trying to pop the float, or just stepping on one by accident will give you a very powerful sting."
Those tentacles can be extremely long. One that was reported a few years ago at Myrtle Beach had tentacles that were 16 feet long. So when you see the balloon body, watch out for the tentacles, too.
Bottom line? Leave them alone!
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