Panic as bluebottle washes up on New Jersey beach

June 25, 2015 – 2:09PM

Megan Levy


A lone bluebottle is terrorising the shores of New Jersey in the US.

One of the marine creatures, so synonymous with summer at Australian beaches, washed up on the sand in Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island on Sunday. Panic ensued.

So great was the concern that it prompted a warning from lifeguards, scores of news stories about the creature, known in the US as a Portuguese Man o’ War, while “Harvey Cedars, New Jersey” was trending on Facebook in the days after the discovery.

The bluebottle, or Portuguese Man O’ War, that washed up on the beach in New Jersey. Photo: Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol

One NBC reporter crossed to the studio live from the very beach where the bluebottle washed up, describing it as a “creature with a sting so severe and so painful it can be deadly”.  The segment was entitled “Scare at the shore”.

“I was very surprised, honestly. I’ve never seen anything like that so it scared me a lot,”  said beachgoer Chrystal Geier from the safety of the sand. She wasn’t venturing into the water.

Scientists at the Australian Museum examined the photograph of the creature from New Jersey, and said it appeared to be the same species as the one commonly seen at Australian beaches.

Most seasoned Australian beachgoers have encountered the painful welts of a bluebottle sting, and thousands of the creatures can wash up onto Australian beaches when the right wind prevails.


(Hey, New Jersey. That’s not a bluebottle invasion. This is a bluebottle invasion)

To be fair, in the US the creatures are usually found in warmer waters further south off the coast of Florida, so swimmers in New Jersey would be completely unfamiliar with them.

Martyn Robinson, a naturalist at the Australian Museum, said the float size on a bluebottle could vary significantly.

Their movement was dependent on the wind and current, as well as their bladder, which could be inflated to catch the wind.

“The dependence on the wind and current for their movement can mean they blow all around the world, but mainly they are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters,” he said.

“In Australia when we get north or north-easterly winds onshore in summer, that’s when the bluebottles are a problem for us.

“If the wind blows them onto the shore, that’s a disaster for them.”

Make sure you understand how harmful sea creatures can sting you and how to treat them with the right first aid procedures. Although not found in Canberra all of you are aware of many occasions when they cover the beach at Batemans Bay. Do a first aid course in Canberra with Canberra First Aid Courses and we will teach you all about the treatment of the blue bottle and other sea creatures. Canberra First Aid will give you the best first aid course in Canberra in regards to time, efficiency and skills learnt. Our hands on approach is loved by all participants.

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