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Don’t Try to Rescue a Portuguese Man-of-War!

11 Feb

It’s overcast on Roatan today. A weather system blew in during the night. The sunrise unseen covered with grey rolling clouds. In the distance, the usual soothing sound of waves encountering the reef—replaced with the roar of them breaking hard. These are the days I love to walk on the beach. It’s too breezy for the sand-flies to grab on and bite my shins. No need for sun-screen or hat—it would blow away anyhow.

Strolling along with Mona (my dog), she chases crabs, and I comb the shoreline for new found treasures. Pieces of coral, shells and sponge litter the beach, all worthy of being admired. Occasionally I find a starfish or two, too far from the receding tide to return to the sea on their own—I toss them back in the water. Hopeful the rescue will be successful.

I’ve also learned a lesson on what NOT to try to rescue.

During one of my walks, on a day such as this one, I came across a creature I had never encountered before. It was the most unusual thing I had ever seen. A translucent blue…bag, water sloshing inside, with pie-crust crimped edges, and sand encrusted stringy tentacles bunched up underneath.

I nudged it with a stick, and shooed Mona away when she came to take a sniff. I suspected it was some kind of a jelly-fish, but with my limited (zero) knowledge of marine life—I really wasn’t sure. Even if it was something that could sting me, didn’t it deserve to return to the sea? It obviously couldn’t get there on its own.

I tried to pick it up with the stick. This didn’t work. Poor thing just plopped back down on the sand—getting even more coated. The next available rescue tool was my flip-flops. One in each hand, bring them together like salad-tongs ready to toss a salad, I scooped up the creature and flung the blue glob toward the sea. I stood back and watched as the creature bobbed along. Proud of my accomplishment I whistled for Mona, and we continued our walk.

After progressing only a few feet, I felt a strange burning sensation on my arms and legs, red angry welts confirming the locations. I realized my error. When I launched the creature, I was unable to contain all the tentacles with my footwear, a few grazed my arms and legs—I had been stung!

Racing back home, I skirted around the creature. It had washed ashore again, only moments after I had thrown it in the water. While I read-up on what I had tried to rescue, confirming it was a Portuguese Man-of-War, the stinging began to ease.

I told marine-suave friends what I had done, they jokingly suggested that the next time I attempted this kind of thing, I just have to get someone to pee on the stings (supposedly the best remedy). I assured them that wouldn’t be necessary. I learned my lesson—don’t try to rescue a Portuguese man-of-war!


This story was also featured in Honduras Weekly Don’t Try to Rescue a Portuguese Man-of-War

8 Responses to “Don’t Try to Rescue a Portuguese Man-of-War!”

  1. Patricia Lemelin 13. Feb, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    Genny Genny Genny, what are you up to now, I thought you knew better? I hope that all is well and you didn’t suffer to many ill effects.

    I certainly will not try to rescue an ungrateful portuguese man-of-war, thank you for the warning.

  2. gennyca 15. Feb, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Hi Mommy,
    I know, I know…I’ve always been the daughter that gives you the most to worry about. I just can’t help it!
    Actually no worse then the time I got stuck in a statue at Victoria Park, Vancouver, and the firemen had to come to the rescue. Oh silly me…that was your other daughter.

  3. Patricia Lemelin 15. Feb, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    You scared me, when you started about the legs caught in the statue in the park, wow! I really thought you were losing it ha ha, you little fooler, and by the way as I am sure you know, it was STANLEY PARK VANCOUVER. Love U xoxox

  4. Patricia Lemelin 28. Feb, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Genny you will never believe it. I came across 30 to 40 Man of wars down at the Gulf the other day. And along with them about 10 beached large jelly fish. wow wow. I couldn’t believe it. Some were still all blown up and I for sure stood clear as I have been warned. It was then that I realized, my baby, that you live almost off the same water as us. We are the Gulf of Mexico and you are below under Berlize in the Carrribean Ocean. How ’bout that? We are sooooo lucky.

  5. debi 23. Oct, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    you have a good heart.. sorry you got stung!
    and i have extra flipflops… i do. if you need a pair. :-)

  6. Gennyca 23. Oct, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Ahhh, thank you Debi. I’ve got a reserve pair. I’ve gotten myself into all kinds of predicaments trying to rescue things. Just want to do my part…one critter at a time.


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