Mysterious 'Eyeball-Looking' Creatures Wash Ashore in Texas

Jennifer Baltazar was walking on the beach with her son when he began to feel a stinging sensation in his foot.

According to MySA.com, the two of them retraced their steps to find what he stepped on and discovered a strange creature that looked almost like an eyeball.

After taking pictures of the gelatinous, jellyfish-like blobs, which had washed ashore at Mustang Island State Park, Baltazar reportedly sent the photos to Jace Tunnell of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

Tunnell told MySA.com that while he had never seen those particular organisms before, after some research, he was able to identify them as Rhizophysa eysenhardti. The species is closely related to Portuguese man o' war, a stinging siphonophorae that resembles a jellyfish.

"I've never seen these things wash up before," Tunnell said. He added, "Certain times of the year these jellyfish and stuff fluctuate coming in, and we randomly find interesting things coming, and this one, in particular, kind of threw me off...it's an interesting find for sure."

The odd-looking species has acquired some fitting nicknames over the years: Rhizophysa eysenhardti are reportedly sometimes referred to as 'spaghetti monsters' or 'thread-jellies.' They are typically native to the tropical Atlantic and Indian oceans, making their appearance along the Texas coastline somewhat of a rarity.

Mustang Island State Park took to Facebook to warn potential visitors about the area's unsettling new beach-dwellers, noting that the species "had [them] stumped for quite some time."

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Baltazar also used the platform to share photos from her own experience with the creatures, and soon, others joined in with their own Rhizophysa eysenhardti sightings.

"At first we thought it was a fish eyeball," Baltazar wrote next to one photo. She also shared a photo of her son's reaction to the sting, his skin appearing red and irritated.

"We were at Mustang Island on March 27th," shared another commenter, "and I saw one of these in the sand but didn't think much about it since it was so small."

Rhizophysa eysenhardti can cause a painful sting, as Baltazar's son experienced firsthand. If someone does get stung, MySA.com recommends rinsing the area with seawater. Avoid putting fresh water or tap water on the affected area, as both will reportedly "aggravate" the sting.

However, the best tactic for treating a Rhizophysa eysenhardti sting is to avoid getting one in the first place. As Tunnell put it simply, "Take pictures but leave the animal there."

Portuguese Man o' War
Rhizophysa eysenhardti are closely related to the Portuguese man o' war, shown above. Matt Cardy/Getty Images