Are Clinging Jellyfish Here to Stay in Jersey Shore Rivers and Bays?
SHREWSBURY — It appears the clinging jelly fish are becoming more common on the Jersey Shore.
The appearance last June of the small and potentially dangerous creatures in the Shrewsbury River, Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay prompted the Department of Environmental Protection to team up with Montclair State University to study their population.
Seven sites where the jellyfish were found last year were sampled again this year. As of Thursday, 150 small adults were found in the Shrewsbury River by Paul Bologna, director of the Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences Program at Montclair State University.
"We found all these guys in Shrewsbury last year; it's not a fluke. And to have them come back this year, we have established resident population so this is something we're going to we're probably going to see on a regular basis," Bologna told New Jersey 101.5. "But they're a little fickle. Some years they bloom and some years they don't."
The DEP stressed that no clinging jellyfish have been found on coastal beaches and have been found in the tall grass of marshy areas. Bologna said that even if one were to make it to the beach they would be shredded by the surf and not survive.
"There should be almost a zero per cent chance you'd encounter them," Bologna said.
Those swimming or paddling a boat in the back bays, however, could encounter them.
"You're going in shallow water where these guys are living in the eel grass. If you fall over you might encounter them because you're in their territory."
Bologna said one thing his team is working on with the DEP is how long the blooms last, as they were all gone from coastal areas by the end of July. "But that's also when the Sea Nettles come up and they eat them," Bologna said.
The DEP said the clinging jellyfish is native to the Pacific Ocean. Its sting can produce severe pain and, in some cases, require hospitalization.
A Middletown man was stung last year by the creature while swimming in the Shrewsbury River and said it felt like every muscle in his body had a Charlie horse.
Bologna the public should report sightings to the DEP, but often they turn out to be a different type of jellyfish.
"The clinging jelly has tentacles all around the whole bell."