Authorities in New Jersey have issued a clinging jellyfish warning Tuesday after the miniature menace were spotted in an Ocean County river.
The Department of Environmental Protection advises those going to the Metedeconk River to “exercise caution” after it was confirmed that the clinging jellyfish — a type of jellyfish with a powerful sting not native to the area — was found in the water.
The clinging jellyfish was first confirmed in New Jersey in 2016 in the Manasquan River at the Point Pleasant Canal.
The DEP has been working with Montclair University to study the distribution of clinging jellyfish in New Jersey. This week, Montclair researchers confirmed about 15 clinging jellyfish of varying sizes off a private dock in the Metedeconk.
Genetic testing is being conducted on the species for final verification.The DEP is also reminding visitors to the Shrewsbury and Manasquan rivers – Monmouth County waterways where the clinging jellyfish was confirmed in recent years – “to be alert to its possible presence.”
The clinging jellyfish is not known to inhabit ocean beaches or sandy areas but tends to attach itself to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays and estuaries, which are areas not heavily used for swimming, authorities say.
According to authorities, anyone wading through the areas, especially near aquatic vegetation, should wear boots or wader and take other precautions. Additionally, authorities recommend swimming near lifeguard beaches.
Sea nettles, another type of jellyfish with a less powerful sting and of a larger size, are common in Barnegat Bay, which receives water from the Metedeconk River.
Clinging jellyfishes range from the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. It has a distinctive red, orange or violet cross across its middle.
Each of these jellyfish can have 60 to 90 tentacles — each which can grow to be three inches long — that uncoil and emit painful neurotoxins.
Authorities recommend that if one is stung by a clinging jellyfish, to apply white vinegar to the affected area to immobilize remaining stinging cells. Subsequently, the area needs to be rinsed out with salt water and any remaining tentacle parts should be removed using gloves or a towel. This should be followed by applying a hot compress or cold pack to alleviate the pain.
If symptoms persist or the pain level increases, authorities urge one to seek immediate medical attention.
If a clinging jellyfish is spotted, authorities ask the public not to capture it, but instead to take a picture and send it and the location information to Dr. Paul Bologna at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joseph Bilinski at email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/docs/clinging-jellyfish-factsheet.pdf.