Dangerous jellyfish now found in northern Barnegat Bay

(Image: opencage.info via Creative Commons)

(Image: opencage.info via Creative Commons)

A dangerous invasive jellyfish continues to move south along internal Jersey Shore waterways.

The clinging jellyfish, packing a powerful sting, has now been found in Ocean County’s northern Barnegat Bay.

During the late spring, the species was found in Monmouth County’s Shrewsbury and Manasquan rivers before being collected earlier this month in the Metedeconk River, a Barnegat Bay tributary.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is advising the public to exercise caution in the northern Barnegat Bay, popular for boating, fishing, swimming, crabbing, and other recreational activities.

There is no method to effectively control clinging jellyfish, which were mostly recently found off the Barnegat Bay’s “F Cove” and “Wardells Neck” along the Metedeconk River, both in Brick, experts say.

The dime-sized clinging jellyfish, native to the Pacific Ocean region, were first found in New Jersey in 2016 when a fisherman collected one near the Point Pleasant Canal in Ocean County.

Along the Eastern seaboard, they were first found in coastal Massachusetts in the early 20th century. They are known to spread by ships.

Oceanus Magazine describes the species as resembling “a piece of art glass or a flash bling brooch you would never want to wear” with “hula-hoop skirts of 60 to 90 glass-like tentacles that uncoil sharp threads and emit painful neurotoxin.”

A state news release advises that clinging jellyfish are not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas.

Rather, they tend to attach themselves to “submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays and estuaries — areas not heavily used for swimming,” according to the release.

Officials say anyone stung by the jellyfish should immediately treat the impacted area:

  • Apply white vinegar to the affected area to immobilize any remaining stinging cells.
  • Rinse the area with salt water and remove any remaining tentacle materials using gloves or a thick towel.
  • A hot compress or cold pack can then be applied to alleviate pain.
  • If symptoms persist or pain increases instead of subsiding, seek prompt medical attention.

If you see a clinging jellyfish, expert say to not attempt a capture. Instead, take a photograph, if possible, and send it to Dr. Paul Bologna (bolognap@mail.montclair.edu) or Joseph Bilinski (joseph.bilinski@dep.nj.gov) along with the location.

Anyone who spots these jellyfish or anything unusual can also post to the New Jersey Jellyspotters Facebook group.

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