Nearly 300 clinging jellyfish found in Barnegat Bay; thousands more may be hiding
Above: 5 steps to take if you get stung by a clinging jellyfishNearly 300 clinging jellyfish — known for their tiny size and excruciating sting — were found by researchers in Barnegat Bay on Thursday.The latest jellyfish count has Paul Bologna, director of the Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program at Montclair State University, convinced that tens of thousands of the stinging animals are living in areas of the bay.Bologna said the samples, predominantly taken along the Metedeconk River and northern Barnegat Bay, showed higher numbers of these jellyfish than were found in previous years.“When we’re finding hundreds, or 500 of these, it really means that there are thousands and tens of thousands of polyps (or baby jellyfish) ... out in the local waterways," he said. The numbers could mean more stings — and more hospitalizations — this summer as a result.Clinging jellyfish, an invasive species native to the Mediterranean and Pacific Ocean, have intense stings that feel like "a whole body charley horse," Bologna said.While the pain of other jellyfish stings tend to trail off after a period of time, the pain of these dime-sized jellies can increase with time and leave a person in agony, Bologna said."They have two sets of venom that are really problematic," he said. "The first is paralysis and the second is a neurotoxin."More: What to do if you get stung by a jellyfish — and one thing you definitely shouldn't do
Clinging jellyfish have returned for the summer. This dime-sized invertebrates, which can be found in the Shrewsbury and Metedeconk rivers, pack a nasty sting. Russ Zimmer
These jellyfish cling to underwater grasses and algae, where they feed on small fish and tiny crustaceans, Bologna said.The DEP, which is sampling areas in the Shrewsbury River and Barnegat Bay for the jellyfish, said people gathering shellfish near eelgrass beds and casual waders are more at risk from stings than swimmers at heavily used beaches.Researchers are investigating where the clinging jellyfish originally came from, how they traveled to New Jersey, and how long they have been in the waters here. Scientists are still examining what impact these animals may have on the native plant and animal species already in Barnegat Bay. If you are stung by a clinging jellyfish, the DEP advises:
- Rinsing the area with white vinegar to immobilize stinging cells.
- Rinsing the area with saltwater and removing remaining tentacles by using gloves, a plastic card or thick towel.
- Apply cold packs or ice to alleviate pain.
- If pain continues or increases, seek immediate medical attention.
Related: Blue button 'jellyfish' wash up on the Jersey Shore courtesy of Hurricane FlorenceFrom last year: Clinging jellyfish found at Island Beach State ParkAmanda Oglesby is an Ocean County native who covers Brick, Barnegat and Lacey townships as well as education. She has worked for the Press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-557-5701.
Researchers hunt for clinging jellyfish
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