Central Florida Jellyfish Report May 14, 2020

COCOA BEACH, Florida – It won’t be a good week to go swimming in the ocean off of east Central Florida due to the presence of several types of jellyfish and Portuguese Man of War.

Recent easterly winds have been blowing moon jellyfish, blue buttons, comb jellyfish, and Portuguese Man-of-War (technically, Portuguese Man-of-War aren’t jellyfish but are instead a colony of small organisms called Siphonophorae) along with small amounts of seaweed onto the popular tourist beaches.

Parts of an unidentified species of jellyfish mangled by rough surf.
Parts of an unidentified species of jellyfish mangled by the rough surf.

According to the National Weather Service in Melbourne, prevailing easterly winds will continue through the weekend. So, there will be a good chance that jellyfish and Portuguese Man-of-War will remain along Florida’s Space Coast beaches through at least Monday.

Jellyfish on Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Jellyfish in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

A small amount of golden Sargassum seaweed is present along Brevard County beaches and in the surf zone which will make it harder to spot jellyfish in the water.

Portuguese Man-of-War
Portuguese Man-of-War

The Portuguese Man-of-War can be identified from other jellyfish in Florida by its translucent blue and purple gas-filled air sac that helps them travel long distances across the ocean by acting as a wind-driven sail.

Often, the Portuguese Man-of-War is entangled in the seaweed which makes it harder for beachgoers to see the stinging marine life before it is too late.

A violet-colored stinging tentacle cluster mass under the body can have tentacles that may extend up to ten or fifteen feet. These stinging, venom-filled tentacles are designed to paralyze small fish but can also deliver a powerful sting to humans who wade into the water or play on the beach.

Blue Buttons (Porpita porpita)
Blue Buttons (Porpita porpita)
Blue Buttons (Porpita porpita)

Slight itchiness, potentially lethal from allergic reactions.

Blue Buttons are small, circular sea creatures with ‘spokes’ extending outwardly.

Blue Buttons aren’t jellyfish. They are Chondrophores – a colony of hydrozoan polyps that only appear to be one marine animal.

Blue Buttons feed on crustacean larvae. Their natural predators are Blue Sea Dragons.