Sat, Jan 05, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Floating terror on beach an isolated incident: agency

By Wang Chun-chih and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Two beached Portuguese man-of-wars lie on rocks at Cisingtang Beach in Hualien County on Wednesday.

Photo: Screen grab from Facebook

The Hualien County Bureau of Agriculture on Thursday called for calm after photographs of multiple Portuguese man-of-wars at Cisingtan Beach (七星潭) went viral on Facebook.

The Portuguese man-of-war — also known as the “floating terror” — is a venomous creature consisting of four symbiotes that resembles a jellyfish. Its tentacles can reach 50m in length while in water and deliver a sting that can cause excruciating pain and sometimes death.

A picture of several dead Portuguese man-of-wars on the beach was on Wednesday posted to the Facebook group “People of Hualien” with a reminder that the creature was still dangerous if it is dead and should not be touched.

The incident was likely an isolated event, as there has been no officially recognized sightings of the creatures in the past few days, fishery and animal husbandry section head Huang Yao-hsing (黃耀興) said on Thursday.

“However, we urge the public to never handle floating terrors,” he said.

Touching a man-of-war could result in painful red welts that take two to three days to heal, the East Coast National Scenic Area Administration said, confirming that even a dead floating man-of-war’s tentacles can sting hours after its death.

The creature’s toxins can spread to lymph nodes and cause symptoms similar to that of an allergic reaction, it said.

A member of the Hualien Marine Conservation Association surnamed Pan (潘) said that jellyfish and man-of-war populations have been increasing in waters near Hualien due to climate change and pollution from agricultural runoff.

Excessive nutrients in the form of salts and fertilizers can lead to blooms of algae and plankton, which are harmful to most ocean life, but beneficial to jellyfish and man-of-wars, he said.

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