Nova Scotia beachgoers are being warned about the reappearance of a rare and potentially dangerous sea creature.

A Portuguese man o’ war, which carries a nasty sting, was discovered at a popular beach outside Halifax last week.

The Clark family was enjoying time at Crystal Crescent Beach when they spotted what they thought looked like a small toy floating in the water.

"It was beautiful. It literally looked like when you blow a bubble,” says Amy Clark. “It was see through, it was iridescent. It caught the light beautifully.”

Moments later, a wave washed it ashore and left it at their feet. A Google search confirmed it was a Portuguese man o’ war.

They took pictures before burying the creature in the sand and warning others on Facebook.

Jellyfish of all shapes, sizes and colours are common in Maritime waters, but the Portuguese man o’ war is different in a number of ways. 

The creature goes by a number of other names including the blue bottle and even the floating terror. It’s technically not even a jellyfish, but rather a colony of individual animals that work together as one.

Portuguese man o’ war have delicate looking tentacles that can measure three or four metres in length, and anything that brushes by one is considered food.

"If you pick one up or put your hand in there, those cells will discharge and it’s extremely painful,” says Andrew Hebda, zoology curator for Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. “In some cases it could potentially lead to death as well. But the point is if you see something laying there, leave it there."

Hebda says Portuguese man o’ war are spotted every few of years in Nova Scotia, and are indicative of warmer water.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.