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Rare, Stinging Jellyfish Found in N.J. For First Time in Bay Off Brick

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A jellyfish never before seen in New Jersey has been spotted in Barnegat Bay off the Brick shoreline by a fisherman.

The clinging jellyfish, a dime-sized creature that can pack a nasty sting, was scooped up by local angler Josh Hart, who took it to Jenkinson’s Aquarium for identification, according to a report from NBC Philadelphia.

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The aquarium then contacted jellyfish expert Dr. Paul Bologna of Montclair State University, whose team is going to perform DNA tests on the jellyfish to confirm the species identification and find out more about where it came from. Hart captured the jellyfish while fishing south of the mouth of the Point Pleasant Canal.

The clinging jellyfish, off the radar for decades, was first spotted again in 2013 by a marine researcher working in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Mary Carman, the scientist, was stung on her face while diving.

“It felt like hypodermic needles,” she said, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Clinging Jellyfish (Photo: NBC Philadelphia)
Clinging Jellyfish (Photo: NBC Philadelphia)

Carman investigated further and found reports of other recent incidents of clinging jellyfish stings at Sage Lot Pond in Falmouth, Mass., and the Menemesha Pond system on the Vineyard, the institute said in a news release at the time. She also found that clinging jellies have been observed elsewhere in Massachusetts, as well as in New Hampshire and New York waters.

The jellyfish is an invasive species from the Pacific, and its presence in Atlantic waters is not fully mapped. Multiple stings from the clinging jellyfish can cause “acute respiratory problems, joint pains, and acute dermatitis that can take days to heal,” according to the Woods Hole report.

Bologna said it is likely there are more clinging jellyfish where this first one in New Jersey came from.

“Generally, if you find one, there are more, because they had to come from somewhere,” he said, in the NBC report.


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  • J W

    Record warm temperatures, record warm waters- they can survive here all year round probably thanks to global warming. Good job America. We all needed gas guzzling Hummers and now life as we know it will forever suck with more hurricanes, flooding, dangerous weather. But keep denying the truth of global warming. That’ll help things.

    • KaayC

      Yes! We need our Hummers so badly, it is just a battlefield out there getting to Starbucks and Dollar Tree. Then when disaster is predicted, we run for cases of water bottles adding more plastic to the mix!

  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    The Sea Nettles that have invaded the bay and Metedeconk river were never in NJ until they started appearing about ten years ago. One of my friends who is an oceanographer said it was because the salt content of the bay and river have lowered making it a perfect environment for them. Although a crazy idea, maybe we should have not filled in that inlet that was made by Superstorm Sandy, it might have been nature trying to make a correction to the water.

    • J W

      Before the Point Pleasant canal, the upper Barnegat Bay was even less saline, and from what I understand, much of the area around Lightning Jacks was a freshwater cedar swamp. When I was younger, I remember the dead cedars still standing over there from before the salt water killed them all those decades ago. The Toms River was a proper river of maybe 30 feet across at Island Heights. Now it’s an estuary or just part of the bay- barely even tidal at this point.

  • Beach N8iv

    Box jellyfish (class Cubozoa) found on the beach (Bay Head or Point Beach) last year and now this. I think that Nature may be telling us something.

  • Surfrider

    Where the ocean broke through at Mantoloking Bridge, if that were left open, half the roads along the water fronts and waterfront properties would still be flooded! Kettle creek waters were approximately 6′ higher than normal at that time. Tides run 6 hours, and by the time water from the atlantic reaches areas by silver bay and Kettle creek, the tide changes, and has a minimal affect on water depths under normal conditions. Over on Mantoloking Road, the depth was 4′ up on mail box posts, 3/4 mile in, just to give an idea of how deep the ocean level was up to while the ocean freely filled the area.

  • Surfrider

    Sea Nettles seem to not appear swimming around until the bay water reaches the neighborhood of about 75 to 80 degrees. I have never noticed them around in the winter, have no clue what happens to them, if they migrate away once the waters temp drops, or die off. The water temps in back bay areas are warmer because it is shallower, and the sun has a bigger affect in increasing the temps. This has obviously always been the case. Along with the lower salinity levels, sea nettles can thrive pretty well.