If you are headed to the coast this weekend to celebrate the 4th one place you might want to steer clear of is the Horseneck Beach State Reservation area. State officials are warning beachgoers off Horseneck Beach in Westport.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation on Tuesday warned the public of the presence of the sea creature and said it has posted purple flags at the beach, which indicate the presence of dangerous marine animals.

The Portuguese man o’ war is recognized by its balloon-like float, which may be blue, violet, or pink, which rises up to six inches above the water line, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Resembling an 18th-century Portuguese warship under full sail, the man o’ war is recognized by its balloon-like float, which rises up to six inches above the waterline.

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Its tentacles below the water, which can grow as long as 100 feet, deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish. The tentacles contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. While the man o’ war’s sting is rarely deadly to people, it packs a painful punch and causes welts on exposed skin. While rarely deadly to humans, it can cause painful welts on exposed skin.

Often called a jellyfish, it is actually a species of siphonophore, which is closely related to jellyfish.

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