New Purple Flag Warns Of Jellyfish, Stingrays On Outer Banks Beach

Jul 20, 2020


Ben Battaile, assistant supervisor of Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue, displays a flag used for warning swimmers of hazardous marine animals on Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
Credit Jeff Hampton / The Virginian-Pilot via AP

Lifeguards on a beach in North Carolina's Outer Banks have posted a new purple flag that is adorned with images of a jelly fish and a stringray.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Sunday that that the flag serves as a warning when the sea creatures are nearby. 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.

Purple flags are a common maritime warning. But 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 no included because they're rare an unpredictable.

“You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than be bit by a shark,” he said.

Jellyfish can inject people with venom. Stingrays can strike with a barb that often contains toxins.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described a stingray's barb.