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Don’t Fear the Waterfalls: Man-o-war Edition

you won't find man-o-war on a rainforest rappelWith some of the severe offshore weather the Hawaiian Islands experienced while Hurricane Lane was in the vicinity, many beach-goers are reporting frequent encounters with the Portuguese man-o-war (Physalia physalis). Like many exotic sea creatures, the man-o-war isn’t just beautiful, it’s harmful. Its long tentacles dangle down into the water, while its head bobs along the top of the water. The translucent wing on its head acts like a sail. Because it can’t actively swim or direct itself, the sail is the man-o-war’s only means of locomotion.

When the tentacles make contact with whatever is unlucky enough to be near them, they deliver a very painful, venomous sting. How painful and harmful the sting is depends on the size of the man-o-war, how many tentacles made contact, and how sensitive the victim is.

You won’t just see these creatures in the water. The winds will also blow them into the beach break, and eventually they end up littering the sandy beaches, where unsuspecting feet and toes step on them. Even after a man-o-war has died, their tentacles remain venomous, so be wary of these blue devils, especially after off shore storms or strong winds that blow man-o-war toward the beaches.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s impossible to encounter a man-0-war or stinging jellyfish or any meddlesome, venomous sea creature on a Rappel Maui tour. There’s also no need to worry about shark bites, rip currents, wana (sea urchins) quills, or coral scrapes, either. You may see Tahitian prawns, those little crawdad-looking crustaceans in the fresh water ponds, but they move like lightning when threatened by curious hands.  Here’s more about what makes a Rappel Maui tour safe.  The rainforest also poses no threat from land wildlife such as bears, wildcats, or snakes. But if you’re worried about mosquitoes, please ask your guide for the DEET-free spray they carry. (Please do not apply products containing DEET before your tour, as it damages the gear that we use.)  If you notice you’ve been bitten ask for the Afterbite, an anti-itch treatment that can be applied to the skin.

While the ocean waters may be rough, murky or unfriendly after storms, the rainforest streams remain, as always, man-o-war free. We operate rain or shine, and our offices are open 7 am to 7 pm every day of the year. Please call to ask about conditions due to weather any time.