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Sea butterflies needle Volusia County beach visitors

Hurricane Florence carries stinging sea snails to Ormond Beach

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Volusia County Beach Safety Patrol warned beachgoers this week to be careful of sea butterflies that have washed ashore due to Hurricane Florence.

Officials said the mini marine organisms are a pteropod called cresis acicula, more commonly known as a sea butterfly. Lifeguards said they are not dangerous but their stings are painful.

Several people have already been stung by the tiny creatures.
 
"It feels like needles sticking in you," said Debbie Williams, who said she found a ton of sea butterflies Tuesday on her body in Ormond Beach.
 
"You don't really feel them when you're in the water but when you get out, you feel it when your swimsuit is against you," she said.
 
Mike Patterson, visiting from Maryland, also got covered in the needle-like creatures from head to toe.
 
"I got them in my back, in my hand and I stepped on a bunch of them and they hurt. They do sting. It's like a shard of fiberglass going in you and you got to pull them out," said Patterson.
 
Beach Safety Patrol wants to reassure beachgoers that sea butterflies are nontoxic creatures.
 
"A lot of people think they're fiberglass. They're not fiberglass. These little creatures come from the warm waters of the Caribbean," Capt. Tammy Malphurs said.
 
Malphurs said that this type of sea snail is mostly washing up along Ormond Beach because the current is moving north. However, lifeguards have seen the sea butterflies elsewhere, and are alerting beachgoers by flying the purple flag throughout Volusia County beaches.
 
"They don't really sting so much but they do stick in your skin and in your swimsuits. You just got to rinse them off with water and if you have a swimsuit on, you probably need to take your swimsuit off and rinse it out in fresh water," Malphurs said.


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