Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Portuguese Men O' War Showing Up on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard

Mary Bergman
A Portugeuse man o' war washed up on Nantucket.

Portuguese men o' war have been showing up in unusually high numbers recently on the north side of Nantucket and the South Side of Martha's Vineyard.

Chilmark beach superintendent Martina Mastromonaco says her crews have spotted over 70 men o' war around Squibnocket and Lucy Vincent beaches, and she's heard reports on the island from as far as Edgartown.

The Chilmark Superintendent says they have not heard reports of stings yet, but it hasn't been good beach weather the past few days. And the forecast has good weather for the Labor Day weekend.

Mastromoncao is especially nervous about private beaches.

"When you go to a private beach, you don't have anyone monitoring," she says. "It's important for people to be aware that [men o' war] are all along the south shore, and probably will be for the next couple of days."

She recommends visitors wear shoes when walking the beaches.

"These [men 'o war] are hiding in the seaweed that is much higher on the beach than normal," she said, because of the high surf from recent storms. "So the conditions were beneficial for the men o war, but also beneficial for us because there weren't that many people here."

Mastromoncao says if you do get stung, remove the tentacle, and then soak the stinging spot with hot warm water. Depending on the patient and the size of the man o' war, a sting can land a victim in the emergency room, and in rare instances can be fatal.

Sam Houghton has been with the station since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.