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State warns of Portuguese man o’ war species at Horseneck Beach in Westport

Purple flags are up in Westport to warn of the jellyfish.

A popular South Coast beach has been issued a warning for Portuguese man o’ war, a marine creature often mistaken for jellyfish, state officials said.

The dangerous species has been spotted at Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Westport, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation said Friday.

Purple flags have been put up at the beach to alert visitors to the presence or sighting of a dangerous marine animal, DRC said.

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According to the National Ocean Service, Portugese man o’ war have a painful sting that cause welts. Their tentacles grow to be an average of 30 feet and potentially up to 100 feet in length, “loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans,” the service said.

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The DCR’s warning doesn’t come lightly, either — man o’ wars are still capable of stinging someone weeks after they’ve washed ashore, according to the NOS.

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