Blue Button Jellyfish on Texas Gulf Coast

by BeachHunter on July 6, 2009

A blue button "jellyfish" beached on a Texas Gulf beach. Photo copyright Kathryn G.

A blue button "jellyfish" beached on a Texas Gulf beach. Photo copyright Kathryn G.

By David McRee of

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:

The underside of a blue button (Porpita porpita). Photo copyright Kathryn G.

The underside of a blue button (Porpita porpita). Photo copyright Kathryn G.

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.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Jane May 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm

On May 30,2011 I saw three blue buttons in the water off Folly Beach SC. I lived at Folly 1982-1987, and visited many time since for vacation and had never seen one here before.

52 Kristina Alaniz-Garcia July 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I found a few blue buttons on Galveston Island this past weekend, July 24, 2010. I had never seen them and we assumed they were some type of jellyfish so didn’t touch them. They kept washing up on shore. I took some cool pictures….thanks for identifying them!

53 jo July 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

yesterday on the shores of wanna wanna beach at South padre Island. these beautiful (now i know their name) creatures were floating everywhere around us while wadding the ocean. Curiosity got the best of us and my cousin caught one with the brim of a baseball cap and brought it up to shore, We touched its slimy what seemed like tentacles with no irration nor pain. The underside was visible and we touched that area to with no problems.

when trying to place it back into the ocean it was stuck to the hat and unfortunetly pulled apart into pieces. Many of these creatures washed up on shore…you can imagine the crowds they attracted. A local frightend the crowd saying that if the center was punctured a dangerous fluid would burn them. Thank you for your site information.

54 Melissa May 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Spotted one on the shores of Whitecap Beach near Corpus Christi, TX today. Wasnt sure what it was exactly until I found it here. Thanks!

55 j May 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm

my dipshit friend just threw one at me… daytona beach 5/26/12.. choose your friends wisely!

56 beachhunter May 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks j!

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