A jellyfish rarely before seen at the shore has been turning up along New Jersey beaches, but experts warn beachgoers to keep their distance due to the creature’s nasty sting.
“Mauve” jellyfish are more commonly found further out in the ocean -- but that hasn’t stopped them from turning up on the N.J. coastline as of late, primarily in Ocean and Monmouth counties.
Experts can’t be certain but suspect there’s likely a link between the arrival of the jellyfish and changes in water temperatures and wind patterns. As of Sept. 1, water temperatures reached into the 80’s.
“We were here actually back in July and the water was freezing,” Sharon Haniebnik of Havertown, Pennsylvania told NBC10. “I mean, you'd put your foot in and it would immediately cramp up … this week is just the opposite.”
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“What ends up happening oftentimes is that if something like the Gulf Stream that warm water gets closer to the Jersey shore, then our local currents and the tides then move that right up along the coastline,” Dr. Paul Bologna of Montclair State University told NBC10.
If you do run into a mauve jellyfish while cooling off at the Jersey Shore, beware: mauve jellyfish stings can be very painful and leave welts on skin, Bologna added.
“They’ve got a very powerful stinger inside them,” Bologna said. “Not necessarily lethal but gonna deliver a heck of a punch.”
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Health officials say the best ways to avoid jellyfish stings are to wear protective suits when swimming or diving, ask lifeguards or officials about the conditions before diving in coastal waters, and simply stay out of the water when jellyfish numbers are high.