BROWNSVILLE, Texas - - The warnings are out - Portuguese men-of-war have invaded South Padre Island beaches.
The gas-filled, jellyfish-like marine creatures look harmless enough - translucent pinkish or purplish balloons lying on the sand. But they drag with them venomous tentacles that can leave fiery welts on the skin of hapless bathers and beachcombers with whom they come in contact. In rare cases, allergic reactions can prove fatal.
Cameron County officials say the men-of-war have floated in with the tide onto the Boca Chica Beach and the beaches at Isla Blanca park, Andy Bowie Park and Beach Access Nos. 5 and 6 on South Padre Island.
Officials say to avoid contact with the animals, even if they seem to be dead.