Ouch! Rare stinging jellyfish invade the Jersey Shore

If you’re heading to the Jersey Shore this weekend, beware of another danger lurking in the waters just off our shores.

The rare purple stinger jellyfish appeared in large numbers, and they have a painful sting.

Unlike other jellyfish, this species has stinger cells all over its body, not just the tentacles. This means that if you rub against one in the water, it will hurt.

People started posting pictures of the purple-tinted jellies in New Jersey Jellyspotters Facebook Page this week. Many were unsure what it was at first, then experts began to intervene, quickly identifying the species.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

A description on WildlifeTrusts.org describes the mauve darter as “a small jellyfish, but it certainly packs a mighty punch, with long tentacles and warty structures on its ‘bell’ full of stinging cells.”

Some have compared being stung to being jolted from a 9-volt battery.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

As to why they are here, and so close to shore, we don’t know. Experts say they are usually found in the open sea, but upwelling and an onshore wind can bring them into shallow water near the beach.

If you see one, don’t touch it. Even if they died on the beach, they can still sting you.

Their venom is not considered particularly toxic, but it can irritate the skin.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters

If you do get bitten, some recommend washing the affected area with white vinegar.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Carefully pluck out the visible tentacles with fine tweezers.
  • Soak the skin in hot water. Use water between 110 and 113 F (43 and 45 C). It should be warm and not hot. Keep the affected skin submerged or in a hot shower until the pain subsides, which may take 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Apply 0.5% to 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment twice daily to affected skin.

Eric Scott is the senior policy director and anchor of New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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