Portuguese man-of-war sighted along Carolina shores

Portuguese Man-of-War.
Portuguese Man-of-War. The Sun News file photo

Several sightings of dangerous Portuguese man-of-war have been reported recently farther north and south of the Grand Strand, but none locally.

A Holden Beach, N.C., couple snapped a photo of the one they encountered Monday afternoon, and several others have been sighted off beaches in the southern part of South Carolina, most likely drawn closer into shore by high winds and warm water.

Earlier this month, there were isolated reports of a man-of-war on Kiawah Island, in the Folly River, and on Isle of Palms, said Erin Weeks, spokeswoman for the Marine Resources Division of the S.C. Natural Resources Department.

“Nothing since then though, and no reports from your area,” Weeks told the Sun News.

Pat Dowling, spokesman for North Myrtle Beach, said there’s been no sightings and no incidents reported there.

“We’ve had them before in our lifetime, but that’s been several years ago,” Dowling said. “If we get them, beach patrol sends me information and we put out an alert.”

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

These dangerous relatives of jellyfish are rare in South Carolina, and their presence prompted state officials to issue an alert that the powerful stingers were being pushed closer to shore due to sustained, onshore winds.

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

If swimmers encounter the creatures, Weeks said they should immediately exit the water and alert lifeguards.

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson