Barnegat Bay swimmers and surfers should watch out because they may get an unexpected shock to their system.
Thousands -- maybe millions, according to NBC New York -- of sea nettle jellyfish are populating waters in Ocean County. They have been spotted in Barnegat Bay, Manahawkin in Stafford, Waretown and the bay side of Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island.
The increase in the number of jellyfish, after a 2011 population boost, could be the reason why more jellyfish are appearing in lagoons, rather than the bays -- where they are normally located.
Professor Paul Bologna, Montclair State's Director of Aquatic and Coastal Sciences, attributed this phenomenon to the use of plastic on the surfaces of docks.
"Sea nettle larvae settle on those surfaces and change into polyps, which bud off to create more of themselves. That kind of exponential reproduction is probably what’s populating the newly infested lagoons," said Bologna in an Asbury Park Press article.
Another theory stems from a Rutgers University report that states the bay's ecological decline has spread southward since the 1990s.
The declining ecological conditions have become a perfect place for jellyfish to prosper.
Per NBC New York:
Predator fish die off, leaving the bay to the sea nettles, which can easily exist in low-oxygen water environments, according to Paul Bologna, Montclair State's Director of Aquatic and Coastal Sciences.
"Jellyfish globally are increasing because we've eliminated their predators," Bologna explained. "We've provided environmental conditions that allow them to flourish."
On Monday, the Environmental and Solid Waste committee met in a joint hearing to discuss the health of Barnegat Bay.