New flag warns of jellyfish, stingrays on Outer Banks beach

State News

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. (Jeff Hampton/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — Lifeguards on a beach in North Carolina’s Outer Banks have posted a new purple flag that is adorned with images of a jellyfish and a stingray.

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

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 not included on the flag because they tend to be rare and 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 and can strike with a poisonous barb.

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