The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) would like to caution swimmers, snorkelers and divers to the possible presence of Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish (also known as man-o-war or blue-bottle jellyfish) in the Grace Bay Area and urges residents and visitors to swim with caution.


Man-o-war jellyfish is a marine hydrozoan found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Long tentacles have numerous venomous microscopic nematocysts which deliver a painful sting powerful enough to kill fish and even occasionally humans.


Stings usually cause severe pain to humans, leaving whip-like, red welts on the skin that normally last two or three days after the initial sting, though the pain should subside after about 1 to 3 hours. However, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and may cause symptoms that mimic an allergic reaction including swelling of the larynx, airway blockage, cardiac distress, and an inability to breathe. Other symptoms can include fever and shock, and in some extreme cases, even death, although this is extremely rare. Medical attention for those exposed to large numbers of tentacles may become necessary to relieve pain or open airways if the pain becomes excruciating or lasts for more than three hours, or breathing becomes difficult.


Stings can be treated by rinsing with fresh water, or by applying a warm vinegar compress to the affected areas. Heat in the form of hot salt water or hot packs may be applied: heat speeds the breakdown of the toxins already in the skin. Hydrocortisone cream may also be used. Please seek medical attention should your experience any of the above symptoms.


Jellyfish problems in near shore areas, such as this, usually resolve themselves within a few weeks and should not be considered a cause for concern. Any sightings or questions can be directed to the DECR at 338-4164 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .