PANAMA CITY BEACH — They look like a jellyfish, float like a jellyfish, are usually called a jellyfish, but technically the bright jellyfish-like creatures washing up along the Panama City Beach shore Saturday aren’t jellyfish.
They’re called blue buttons — scientific name porpita porpita — and are colonies of polyps that work together with an uncanny resemblance to a jellyfish.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Jellyfish armageddon.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Cannonball jellies in the Gulf.
And no, they don’t sting. Though occasionally they bright blue tentacles will cause skin irritation and as always with most marine life, it’s best to look but not touch.
Purple flags were flying at St. Andrews State Park this weekend to alert beachgoers to their presence. Carried by the wind and tides at the surface of the sea, it’s not uncommon for dozens of them to wash up on shore at a time before disappearing.
Blue buttons aren’t often found seen at Panama City Beach, but other jellies are more common. Comb jellies — which don’t sting — are almost always bobbing around in the water, and occasionally jellyfish with more of a sting will wash up on shore such as pink meanies or Portugese Man-o-Wars.
When you see a jellyfish, try to move away from the area to avoid a sting and don’t touch ones that wash up on shore. If you are unlucky and do get stung, a trick is to use vinegar to sterilize the sting.
Have a fish tale? Catch or see something interesting in the water this last week? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 522-5114.