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Tourists warned of dangerous marine creature on Mexican beaches

A Portuguese man o' war washed up on an Australian beach. (Karen Black/Dreamstime/TNS)

Tourists are being warned to exercise caution as they frolic along Mexican beaches this winter because of dangerous marine life.

But it’s not who you think it is.

You can skip humming the foreboding and eerie Jaws music. Instead of sharks, they are much smaller and still deliver quite a bit of pain.

They are the Portuguese man o’ war, a jellyfish-like marine animal that can deliver a painful reaction if stung. There is good news, however. The Portuguese Man o’ War tends to be nomadic and doesn’t stay in one place for very long.

Even the warm winter waters of the Caribbean.

Experts say to be vigilant in Cozumel, including Playa Paraiso, Punta Maroma, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Xpu Ha, Grand Sirenis, and Akumal. The Portuguese man o’ war are generally not aggressive, but even bumping into one in the water can cause an extraordinary, painful sting. Being stung can even cause death.

Most people, however, are left with a large red mark and a burning sensation from the sting. That doesn’t make an encounter with one any easier. For others, it can cause severe bouts of nausea, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

The bad news is that the Portuguese man o’ war can still sting even after their apparent death washing up on shore.

Using vinegar on the area of a stinging is usually the best medicine. In case of nausea or shortness of breath, a trip to the emergency room to get antibiotics for the venom is not out of the question.

After all, they are not called the Portuguese man o’ war for nothing.


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