MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — After some active weather in the Southeast, many viewers sent us photos and videos of Portuguese Man-of-War that had washed up along the Gulf Coast beaches.
News 5’s Caroline Carithers spoke with Robert Dixon, manager at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, about what these organisms are and when we see them wash up.
Robert Dixon tells us that these organisms are actually not just one animal. They are a group of animals with identical DNA that each have a specific function such as feeding, floating, and keeping the sack that they have inflated. They are technically called Physalia and are not considered jellyfish, but are closely related.
They are dangerous because of their long tentacles (up to 100 feet long). Their stings are more painful than most jellyfish because of the number of stingers on each tentacle and the venom they produce.
While we typically see these animals wash up in late winter and into the spring in summer, when they wash up ultimately depends on the weather and wind direction.
This weekend, we had a very strong southerly wind in the wake of a warm front that lifted through our area. This continued until the line of thunderstorms and a cold front passed. This southerly wind is what brought these Portuguese Man-of-War from the Caribbean into the Gulf and onto our beaches.
Check out the video for more details!