Earily one morning, as we walked along a vibrant, clear, Caribbean beach (Mayaro beach Trinidad) searching for a coconut tree willing to share its bounty, we encounted a strange sight. It had washed up on the beach and rested on the sand motion-less. Brightly coloured purple and pink with a merging blue at the bottom, it look absolutely beautiful and yet this was such a dangerious creature.
It was a Portuguese Man O’ war and although i had never seen one before, not even in pictures, i could identify it right away from the many stories i had been told by fisher men and open water swimmers. It had a purple and pink tinted, bag like float at its top and bright blue tenticles at the bottom. These tenticles are known to be full with toxins, strong enough to kill fish and in a few instances, even humans. Tenticles can grow from anywhere between 30ft long, to as much at 98ft long and if person comes into contact with the tenticles, even if the creature is dead or if the tenticles is detached, what follows is a painful sting, capable in some instances of killing the individual!
What to do if stung by a Portuguese Man O’ War.
It is said that the sting of a Portuguese Man O’ war can be compared to an extreme case of being stung multiple times by a colony of jep spanias. ie a type of tropical wasp whose sting you will remember for a lifetime!
To treat the sting of a Portuguese Man O’ war, wash the affected area with vinegar, avoid pressing the skin and immerse the area in warm water. Seek medical attention as standard precaution.