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Portuguese man o' war seen on coastal beaches: Nova Scotia Parks


Nova Scotia Parks says Portuguese man o' war have been spotted on Atlantic coastal beaches recently.

One of the sightings was at Lawrencetown Beach, a popular area for surfers east of Dartmouth.

“It was very blue in colour, very vibrant colours, it looked like a floating rock basically,” said surf student Michelle Maga.

A post from Nova Scotia Parks on Wednesday says Portuguese man o' war are relatively common this time of year along the South Shore and Eastern Shore.

People are advised to avoid swimming if Portuguese man o' war are present in the water and to not touch them.

“When there is a suspected sighting of a Portuguese man o war, what we do is we get on the megaphone and we warn the beach goers of the general area where the sighting was in and we advise that they avoid that area,” said lifeguard Maria Collin.

A man puts a sign up at Lawrencetown Beach in Nova Scotia after a Portuguese man o’ war was spotted on July 2, 2024. (Jesse Thomas/CTV Atlantic)

Portuguese man o' war are a species of siphonophore and closely related to jellyfish.

The U.S. National Ocean Service says they may be blue, violet, or pink and they rise up to six inches above the waterline.

Portuguese man o' war also have long strands of tentacles and polyps with venom to kill fish and crustaceans.

A sting to a human can be painful and cause welts on the skin.

“The main symptom you’ll get from a sting is pain,” said Dr. Emma Burns, with the IWK Health Centre.

Burns says treatment or first aid can be completed on the beach.

“The washing with salt water is the most important first aid treatment,” she said.

From there, it’s recommended the area or skin be submerged in warm to hot water.

“As long as it’s not an extensive amount of skin that’s been affected, that should be sufficient and you don’t need to present to the emergency department,” said Burns.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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