South Carolina officials warn beachgoers of venomous Portuguese men-of-war

If you visit Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, beware: Portuguese men-of-war have been spotted along the shore, officials say.

In a Facebook post, the Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue warned beachgoers to avoid the creatures, as stepping on one or touching its tentacles can deliver a sharp sting.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, “a washed-up man-of-war on the beach (even if it looks dried out) remains highly venomous: it should be treated respectfully and care should be taken to avoid touching the tentacles.”

“If you see these creatures lying on the beach please do not touch them. Please inform the lifeguard services or one of our beach patrols and we will make sure that it gets disposed of properly,” the Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue wrote, adding that some men-of-war have been spotted on the north end of the beach.

Despite the way it looks, a man-of-war is not a “true jellyfish” the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said, nor is it a “single animal.”

Instead, the sea creature is a “colony of numerous organisms called polyps (or zooids) that are so specialized that they cannot live without each other,” according to the department.