Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish invade the Jersey Shore

SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. (WPVI) -- The Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish are invading the Jersey Shore.

They are a bluish in color, with an excruciating sting. Its poisonous tentacles can reach more than 10 feet long.

There have been at least two dozen sightings from Long Beach Island to Stone Harbor.

Keith Stokes, Chief Lifeguard in Ship Bottom says, "We are used to seeing the clear jellyfish that sit on the surface and the kids pick them up and sell them on the beach for a quarter. These are a little bit more venomous, so people need to be mindful for sure."

Stokes has been chief lifeguard for more than a decade. He says Man o' Wars are rare around here and for some people potentially deadly.

"I always tell people if they are allergic to bee stings, you know wasps and stuff like that, they are more susceptible to aquatic sting," said Stokes.

Officials say when the wind blows from the Northeast, it brings the warm waters from the south and plenty of critters and creatures and those Man o' Wars.

The message from officials is just be careful in the water.

Keegan Fessler is a surfing instructor and the owner of the Wave Hog Surf shop. He's in the water every day and has yet to see one.

Action News asked Fessler, does it make him nervous when he's out there or is it just part of the gig? He said, "Part of the gig...there's a whole bunch of animals out there. We get shark stuff and dolphins. It's really not an issue."

Most people at the beach seem unfazed by our new friends. They've continued to enjoy the water, but with an alert eye for those Man o' Wars.

Bob Duddy of Ship Bottom, New Jersey says "I want them to go away, but I understand there is a natural balance in the sea and they have to be here."

If you are planning a trip to the beach, ask the lifeguard on duty, what the conditions are. Be sure to ask about Man o' Wars, rip currents and surf information, so you will know if it's safe to swim.
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