This is a Portugese Man of War. It looks like a jellyfish, and it is related to both jellyfish and corals and sea anemones, but is actually a compound marine invertebrate - a siphonophore - of four different specialized individuals. They live all over the world and have been seen in Hawaii and Wales and all sorts of place in-between. The name comes from the fact that the jelly-like part that sits above water looks like a crested sail on a Portugese boat. Its tentacles carry a sharp venom and an encounter with one is very painful. These creatures often live in huge communities and travel by wind and currents, which is why after a storm some will wash up on the shore. A group of them together in the water can close a beach. And they are a favorite food of loggerhead turtles, which may explain why I saw several of these on the beach one evening while I was walking and the next day encountered a loggerhead turtle nearby.

These beautiful, fascinating creatures swim in the beautiful, fascinating ocean, the life-giving salt water that feeds and waters the earth, and yet an encounter with one in that water hurts really badly (some folks have reactions to contact with the tentacles that require immediate medical treatment).

I guess life is like that. Even when beautiful things are happening, even when one is in a beautiful place, there are painful experiences embedded within. It all goes together. And yet it's no surprise that sometimes people don't want to get back into the water after such an experience. This goes for horseback riding, driving cars, being in a relationship, and a whole lot of other stuff in life as well. We can intellectualize it all we want (it IS cool that the PMofW is made up of four creatures), but it still hurts like hell when one of them stings you.

But you know what is the best thing to put on the welts or lesions the tentacles leave on the skin (the part that hurts like hell) to begin to take the sting out and promote healing?