Thousands of men-of-war invade Hawaii beaches and sting hundreds, lifeguards say

Thousands of Portuguese men-of-war washing ashore in Oahu have delivered painful stings to hundreds of beachgoers, Hawaii News Now reports.

Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services of Honolulu reported thousands of the organisms on beaches along Oahu’s windward side in a post to Facebook cautioning beachgoers.

Lifeguards treated more than 200 stings suffered by beachgoers by Tuesday afternoon, Hawaii News Now reported.

On Wednesday, another 860 stings were reported, KITV reported. One veteran lifeguard called it “the largest influx he has ever seen,” according to the station.

Often mistaken for jellyfish, men-of-war are actually hydrozoans, colonies of organisms working together, National Geographic reported. Their stinger-filled tentacles can extend up to 165 feet.

They use their stingers to paralyze and kill fish for feeding, according to the publication. Stings can be excruciatingly painful, but not normally deadly, to humans barring allergic reactions.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.