New purple flags at the North Carolina Outer Banks warn of jellyfish, stingrays

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. -- If you're heading to the Outer Banks to practice social distancing at the beach, you might notice some new purple flags flying in Kill Devil Hills.

Purple flags are a common sight along the coast -- warning of dangerous sea creatures nearby.

But to be more specific, the flags now feature images of a jellyfish and a stingray -- to help swimmers get the message.

Swimmers fled the surf earlier this week after a group of stinging jellyfish passed through.

The purple flag expands warnings to swimmers beyond the red banner that's flown when rip currents are present. A yellow flag also warns of heavy shore break or dangerous currents.

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South Carolina is warning beachgoers about Portuguese man-of-wars in the water.

David Elder, supervisor of Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue, said he asked the business Islander Flags in Kitty Hawk to add images of the creatures to be more specific.

Shark alerts are not included because they're rare and unpredictable.

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"You're more likely to be struck by lightning than be bit by a shark," Elder said.

Jellyfish can inject people with venom. Stingrays can strike with a poisonous barb.
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