This past weekender, beach goers were greeted by hundreds of Man-Of-War Jellyfish just in time for the national holiday. The species is originally from Portugal and brought a good dose of its poison with it when it invaded our land.
While lovely on the outside, the jellyfish sport beautiful shades of translucent blue and purple, the creatures have toxic stingers and they’re not afraid to use them.
Health officials warm beach lovers to stay away from the Man-Of-War and not to walk around barefoot as their poison is potentially lethal to humans and due to their translucent appearance, you will most likely not see anything when you accidentally step on one. If you’re going for a swim, the safe thing to do is stay in an area that has a lifeguard close by.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gave a statement informing that “Contact with its tentacles will result in a painful, intense sting, welting, and blistering”. The animals are even more dangerous when they’re in the water as their tentacles can drag behind them for up to 30 feet.
Individuals should exercise caution as the aquatic animals have spread all across the shores of New Jersey and experts believe that more of them will show up in the coming days. This is not a phenomenon that would normally happen, however climate change is driving them away from their original habitats as the water keeps getting warmer.
Climate scientists have warned for a while now that our ocean are loosing much needed oxygen supplies and that the carbon dioxide (CO2) is starting to make the environment a much more acidic one for the species it hosts.
Although many of said species are resilient enough to survive higher temperatures, lower oxygen levels, or a decrease in pH, they are having trouble fighting off all of them at the same time.
Man-Of-War Jellyfish is only one of the species known to have migrated north due to this factors, and marine biologist predict that our waters will continue to see changes even if we lower the level of greenhouse gas emission.
Experts say that the creatures have been occasionally spotted in the past, but never on this level. Paul Bologna, director of marine biology over at the Montclair State University, gave a statement saying that “There are definitely lots of them around. We see them occasionally, but nothing as much as this”.
He went on to explain that northeastern winds coming from the south and the Gulf Stream ar most likely the ones helping the Man-Of-War leave the Caribbean or Florida, and travel well into the US.
The director of marine biology also shared that the species moves by floating on the surface of the water and that he believes the creatures will now make their way to Cape Cod and to Martha’s Vineyard (Massachusetts).
The first Man-Of-War Jellyfish sighting to be reported this year happen at Harvey Cedars Beach and Bologna knew right from the start that more of them were on their way.
He stressed that the creatures use several different kinds of toxins, and that not all of them are lethal to humans, but some of them are. You are especially in danger if you happen to be susceptible to allergic reactions similar to those caused by bee stings. If a Man-Of-War Jellyfish stings you, you should immediately seek out a medical expert.
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