DEP Extends Recreational Advisory on Clinging Jellyfish to Entire Barnegat Bay

Jul 18, 2018
Courtesy of: The American Littoral Society.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has expanded a recreational use advisory on clinging jellyfish, a nonnative species with a powerful sting, to the entire Barnegat Bay.

About 40 clinging jellyfish were confirmed in north-central Barnegat Bay last week, on the bay side of Island Beach State Park and in eelgrass beds on the north side of Tices Shoal, located on the bay side of the state park. The jellyfish collected in both areas were in varying stages of maturation.

Boaters and those wading in the bay, including near the popular Tices Shoal area, are advised to be vigilant to the possible presence of clinging jellyfish, the stings of which can produce severe pain, muscle cramping and other localized symptoms. In some cases, stings can result in hospitalization.

According to the DEP, “The clinging jellyfish is not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas but tends to attach itself to submerged sea grass and algae in back bays and estuaries, areas not heavily used for swimming.

“In Barnegat Bay, beds of sea grass can provide ideal habitat for clinging jellyfish, which are very small and hard to see in the water. The clinging jellyfish ranges 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.”

The clinging jellyfish was first confirmed in New Jersey in 2016, in the Manasquan River.

If stung by a clinging jellyfish, apply white vinegar to the affected area to immobilize any remaining stinging cell, then rinse the area with saltwater 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.

The DEP advises against trying to capture clinging jellyfish. Instead, if possible, take a photograph and send it to Paul Bologna at bolognap@mail.montclair.edu or Joseph Bilinski at joseph.bilinski@dep.nj.gov, along with location information.  —J.K.H.

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