SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Tybee Island lifeguards are warning beachgoers to keep a lookout after coming across three Portuguese Man-o-wars in this season alone. Now, you might be wondering: what all is out there in the Savannah area that you should be on the lookout for? Here is a list of five creatures to watch out for, starting with the man of the hour himself, the Portuguese Man-o-war.
You might think this blue guy looks like something out of a science fiction movie or at the least a very bizarre jellyfish. In fact, the Portuguese Man-o-war, also known as the Man o’ War or Man of war, is actually very real and not even a jellyfish at all. This siphonophore (a relative to the jellyfish) has a balloon-like float that can be pink, violet or blue and has long strands of tentacles and polyps attached that are an average of 30 feet.
But why is it part of this list? The Portuguese Man-o-war carries a nasty sting. This sting, while rarely deadly, can cause welts to exposed skin and is generally very painful.
If you get stung, the Tybee Lifeguards Facebook page recommends that you rinse the affected area with salt water, remove as many stingers as you can and then rinse the area again, this time with vinegar and hot water. If it is serious enough, you may need to seek medical attention.
Did you know that there are cottonmouth snakes in Savannah? These semiaquatic snakes are common in the Coastal Plain of Georgia but have also been seen west of Atlanta in a few Piedmont locations.
Also called the “Water Moccasin,” the reason this snake is on this list is obvious to anyone who knows anything about the animal: it is venomous and a bite from one could be serious. Only around five people die from snake bites every year in the United States. According to the CDC, that number is so small because people are able to receive medical care for their wounds.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake like a cottonmouth, you will want to seek medical attention quickly as you might need antivenom. This is especially true if you were bitten by a snake and don’t know what kind of snake it was.
Black Widow Spider
The Black Widow has a bit of a bad rap compared to other spiders, but there’s a reason for that. The Black Widow is the most venomous spider in North America. It is recognized by the hourglass shape on its abdomen and, while unlikely, its venom could potentially send you to the hospital.
The good thing is that the spider is generally not aggressive. They only bite when they feel threatened and male black widows cannot harm humans at all due to the size of their mouths.
The reality of the situation is that you’ll want to avoid this spider so that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of potentially getting bitten, not because it is going to kill you. If you are bitten, you’ll want to follow the guide from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) linked here to know what to do.
According to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, there are currently around 200,000 American Alligators living in Georgia. While alligator attacks tend to make the news when they do happen, the animals themselves are not very likely to attack humans. Unless you go out of your way to harass an alligator, it will probably avoid you as much as you are hoping to avoid it.
So why should you keep a lookout? Alligators are still dangerous to humans even if they are unlikely to attack. You should never approach an alligator and you should always keep a lookout if you are in an area where you know they frequent and you should be careful if you have any small animals with you.
Common Snapping Turtle
At the end of this list is the Common Snapping Turtle. This turtle can be found all over Georgia and Savannah is no exception. This Common Snapping Turtle loves the water and is usually calm, cool and collected whenever they are in that environment.
However, just because they’re docile at times does not mean that you should try to play with them or touch them. When outside of the water, this turtle will snap (hence the name) and attempt to bite anything that it sees as a threat.