A Portuguese man o' war has washed up on the shores of New Jersey. Don't touch it.
The man o' war (also known as the "floating terror," seriously) was spotted over the weekend on the sand at Long Beach Island. Its enticing blue-purple hue makes it look like a deflated party balloon, but that doesn't mean you can just rub it on your face or put it in your mouth. Its tentacles are covered in venom for the purpose of paralyzing small fish, but its sting will absolutely put a damper your beach day. Or just kill you—even detached tentacles remain potent for "hours or even days" after the creature's death.
Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol cautioned beach-goers to be mindful of their surroundings. "When the wind is coming from the northeast, warm water from the Gulf Stream comes to shore," the group wrote on its Facebook page. "With the warm water, often comes seaweed & critters from down south. Always be aware of your surroundings in the ocean & always swim near a lifeguard."
Man o' wars are not jellyfish—they're siphonophores, which Wikipedia describes as a "colony of specialized minute individuals called zooids." What is a zooid? Why is it not to be confused with a zoid? Here, I got you this webpage, have fun.
Here's an amazing description of the man o' war courtesy of Newsworks:
The Portuguese Man-O-War is a predatory siphonophore that gets its name from the float, a gas-filled bladder that can grow up to a foot in length and rise out of the water up at six inches. The creature has very long tentacles that can grow up to 32 feet.
If you do get stung by a Man o' War, at least today is a good day to die.
I am so sorry.