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Portuguese Man-of-war alert issued after hundreds wash ashore South Carolina beaches

Jellyfish take over at Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach added its largest exhibit yet with "Planet Jellies."
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Ripley's Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach added its largest exhibit yet with "Planet Jellies."

Beachgoers along the entire coastline including the Grand Strand are being warned to watch out for the presence of Portuguese man-of-war, which have washed ashore in unusually high numbers at several South Carolina beaches.

These dangerous relatives of jellyfish are rare in South Carolina, but the state Department of Natural Resources issued an alert Wednesday that says “sustained, onshore winds have temporarily brought this creature with a powerful sting to our shores.”

A dozen people were reportedly treated for stings last weekend on Tybee Island in Georgia, and in South Carolina at least one person was stung at Hilton Head Island after hundreds washed ashore on Monday.

Beach hazard warning issued for Myrtle Beach on Aug. 1 and July 31 by the National Weather Service because of numerous jellyfish in the surf.

Sightings of the creature have also been reported in the state at Seabrook Island and Kiawah Island, said Erin Weeks, spokeswoman for the state agency.

“It’s very rare,” Weeks said. “They should be back out in the ocean very soon.”

If swimmers in Myrtle Beach encounter the creatures, Weeks said they should immediately exit the water.

Beachcombers should also avoid the creatures on shore.

“They can still sting long after they are dead,” Weeks said. “These are very painful animals.”

Beachgoers should report any sightings to lifeguards or local officials, Weeks said.

Officials are watching the current, and expect the animals to be pushed far out from shore by this weekend.

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson

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