By David McRee of BlogTheBeach.com.
Over the 4th of July weekend I’ve received 3 reports from Texas beachcombers of large numbers of blue buttons (Porpita porpita) washing up on the beach. Two specified that they were on South Padre Island. The photos on this page were sent to me by Kathryn G. who had this to say:
I lived in Naples FL for 8 years and being an avid beach comber and scuba diver I spent tons of time on the beaches from Ft. Myers to Marco Island, the Ten Thousand Islands and the Keys. Last year I moved to Texas and so I am now combing these beaches. Many Blue Buttons have washed up here in the last couple of weeks and I had never seen them before. I used your page to identify them. I am attaching a photo of the top side, which is similar to the photo you have posted, but I am also sending a photo of the bottom side.Thanks for the identification!
Here is what the underside of a blue button looks like:
Texas and northwest Florida seem to experience frequent strandings of both blue buttons and by-the-wind-sailors. In contrast, they are rarely, if ever, found on central and southwest Florida beaches. The blue button is generally harmless, but I would be careful not to put my hands near my eyes or on sensitive skin after handling one.
Porpita is not a true jellyfish, but is a colonial animal, like the man-of-war, to which they are distantly related. The different parts of the blue button are made up of different animals that all live together cooperatively.
They can be found anywhere on the Gulf coast as well as on the Atlantic coast. I’ve had reports of blue buttons as far north as North Carolina beaches. I would not be surprised if they are found further north than that at times.
Blue buttons are at the mercy of the winds and currents, so weather patterns determine which beaches they end up on.
Kathryn noted that she had never seen blue buttons in southwest Florida, so she used my web pages on Florida jellyfish identification to find out what she had found. My jellyfish pages were cobbled together over the years so they aren’t of the prettiest design, but there is a lot of info there.