Published On: Mon, Jan 19th, 2015

Portuguese man o’ war signaled in Curaçao waters

portuguese_man-o-war_md_20100815_01WILLEMSTAD – They are floating again at the south coast of Curaçao. The Portuguese man o’ war or Bluebottle. This creature was signaled last weekend at the Sea Aquarium Beach.

According to the experts at the Sea Aquarium, this is an annual event because of the changing wind direction.

“Normally the Portuguese man o’ war are found in the open sea, but they can drift towards the coast because of the wind direction. Usually it takes one or two days, after which they drift from the coast again.”

The Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis), also known as the Portuguese man-of-war, man-of-war, or bluebottle is a marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. Its venomous tentacles can deliver a painful sting. Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o' war is not a common jellyfish but a siphonophore, which is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colony of specialized minute individuals called zooids. These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.

Stings from a Portuguese man o' war may result in a severe dermatitis, characterized by extremely painful, long, thin open wounds that resemble those caused by a whip, but are not caused by any impact or cutting action, but rather irritating urticariogenic substances in the tentacles. The Portuguese man o' war is often confused with jellyfish, which may lead to improper treatment of stings, as the venom differs from that of true jellyfish. Treatment for a Portuguese man o' war sting includes:

Avoiding further contact with the Portuguese man o' war and carefully removing remnants of the organism from the skin (taking care not to touch them directly with fingers or any other part of the skin to avoid secondary stinging)

Apply salt water to the affected area (not fresh water, which tends to make the affected area worse).

Follow up with the application of hot water (45 °C or 113 °F) to the affected area from 15 to 20 minutes, which has been shown to ease the pain better than ice cold water.

If eyes have been affected, irrigate with copious amounts of room-temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes, and if vision blurs or the eyes continue to water or hurt, swell, or show light sensitivity after irrigating, or there is any concern, seek medical attention as soon as possible

Vinegar is not recommended for treating stings. Vinegar dousing increases toxin delivery and worsens symptoms of stings from the nematocysts of this species. Vinegar has also been confirmed to provoke hemorrhaging when used on the less severe stings of cnidocytes of smaller species.

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