Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jellyfish invading beaches

The skies will be predominately sunny for beachgoers today, but it's something closer to the sand that could give ocean swimmers a problem.Jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war have besieged the Space Coast in the past five days, an onslaught prompted by stinging onshore winds. Brevard County Ocean Rescue this week raised a purple flag, which warns shoreline revelers of dangerous marine life."Anytime the wind blows from the east and southeast, they're coming," said ocean rescue Chief Jeff Scabarozi. "There are thousands of them out there. They're in full force."Each morning lifeguards spend 20 minutes plucking the creatures from the sand.Man-of-wars pack a bigger punch than jellyfish. They appear as nothing more than a bubble on the ocean surface, but their tentacles can reach 8 feet into the water. The best remedy for man-of-war stings is fresh water. For jellyfish, vinegar can soothe the wound.Don Van Dyke, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Melbourne, said winds should shift from the southeast to the northeast by Monday, when the man-of-war problem should subside. Expect a high of 77 today and 76 on Sunday. A slight chance of showers, about 20 percent, should develop tonight and into Sunday.Jon McCarthy, a lifeguard stationed Friday at Minutemen Causeway in Cocoa Beach, pointed to clumps of seaweed as a sign that critters are washing up. Only people with strong reactions to bee stings should be worried, he said."We'll see them get stung, and they'll freak out in the water," said McCarthy, who has been a lifeguard for two years. "But for most swimmers, it's just annoying."

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