EMERALD ISLE, N.C. — Police say the venomous Portuguese man o' war are washing up on a North Carolina beach.

News outlets report the creatures, which are often mistaken for jellyfish, have appeared on popular beaches in the state over recent days. Officials in the town of Emerald Isle are warning people that even a dead man o' war can sting.

Emerald Isle police said Wednesday on Facebook that beachgoers shouldn't touch the stranded man o' war strewn on the sand. The department posted a photo showing more than a dozen of the critters scattered across several feet of shoreline.

According to National Geographic, the Portuguese man o' war floats on the ocean surface and its tentacles are used to kill fish and other small prey. A man o' war sting is very painful but is rarely deadly to humans.