RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Riviera Beach Fire Rescue said five people were stung Wednesday by Portuguese man-o-war at Phil Foster Park, sending all of them to the hospital.
Fire Rescue said a scuba diving class was being conducted when the incident occurred. Three adults and two children were injured.
Four victims were taken to the hospital by RBFR while the other victim was transported by Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Scott Robberson was scuba diving near Phil Foster Park when the people were stung. He says there were a lot of stinging creatures in the water during his dive.
"A lot of jellyfish in the water. Small ones to seven, eight inches wide. And some large man-o-war, like a foot wide, coming up on the shore," Scott says. He says it's easy to get caught in the grip of a man-o-war's tentacles.
"They just drift with the current. So if someone isn't paying attention-- and they just blend in the water-- you don't know they're there until they hit you and you're stung," Scott says. The city of Boca Raton said 10 to 15 people have been stung per day over the past few days.
On Palm Beach, several others asked for help from lifeguards after they were stung by man-o-war. "Anytime we get a southeast wind like this, it blows a lot of the man-o-war in from the Gulfstream, up onto the beach," says Mark Myhre, a lifeguard on Palm Beach. He says there's no perfect cure for a man-o-war sting.
Lifeguards have been treating them over the years with products like meat tenderizer and vinegar. Mark says you can try to avoid the creatures if you plan on going into the water.
"The worst place to be is on the water's edge when they start washing back and forth. Most of the stings are around your legs or your ankles. So get in past the surf. And if you get stung, come right to the lifeguard tower," he says.
A sting from a man-o-war is painful and can be dangerous for certain people, Mark says. "Mostly people who are allergic to bee stings or something like that could get an anaphylactic reaction and start having difficulty breathing. We would treat that as needed," he says.
5 people were stung by a man of war at a scuba diving class, 3 adults 2 pediatric. 4 transports by RBFR 1 by PBCFR pic.twitter.com/vVHtjCwMVU
— RIVIERA BEACH FIRE (@RBFRPIO87) December 30, 2015
Lifeguard at Phil Foster Park tells me a child and man were taken to the hospital after being stung by man-o-war. pic.twitter.com/IQ44P9pUEc
— Katie Johnson (@Katie_Johnson_) December 30, 2015