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Admire the 'blue button jellyfish' washing ashore on Texas beaches, but don't touch

Beachgoers have reported recent sightings of the porpita porpita, which goes by the common misnomer "blue button jellyfish," on Texas shores.
Kyle Hartshorn/Flickr
Beachgoers have reported recent sightings of the porpita porpita, which goes by the common misnomer "blue button jellyfish," on Texas shores.

Texas officials to beachgoers: Watch your step.

Small and blue tentacled creatures have been spotted along the shores of Galveston Island State Park on the western Gulf Coast, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said this past week.

The porpita porpita — also known as the "blue button jellyfish" — looks like a jellyfish, stings like a jellyfish, but is not in fact a jellyfish.

The blue button is actually a colony of many small animals known as hydrozoan polyps, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

"When you find one, look but don't touch," reads a Facebook post by the local chapter of the state wildlife department's master naturalist program.

The blue button isn't deadly to humans, experts say, but the stinging ends of its tentacles can cause skin irritation.

In case you need another reason to leave them alone: The creatures release their waste through their mouth.

The blue button has two main parts: The inch-wide center "button" keeps the organism afloat, said the Natural History Museum. The hydroid colony makes up the tentacles.

Texans can expect to see more in the coming weeks: Turquoise blue button sightings along the Galveston Bay coast are most common in the summer months, according to the naturalist group. The organisms are attracted to the shore, where they feed on free-floating plankton.

A handful of people commented on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's post saying they had seen the marine animal on local shores recently.

"They look beautiful!" one person wrote. "But usually, when I see something like that, I panic by moving far, far away from it!"

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