BEACHES

Beaches seeing early arrival of jellyfish

Invertebrates usually found in Delaware waters later in summer

By Brian Gilliland
Posted 7/9/24

The Rehoboth Beach Patrol has confirmed that the three species of jellyfish and one close cousin common along Delaware’s coast have arrived earlier than usual this year.

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BEACHES

Beaches seeing early arrival of jellyfish

Invertebrates usually found in Delaware waters later in summer

Posted

REHOBOTH BEACH — The Rehoboth Beach Patrol has confirmed that the three species of jellyfish and one close cousin common along Delaware’s coast have arrived earlier than usual this year.

But the lifeguards and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control also note that the number of injuries has remained flat.

“Reported stings are around the same as they have always been; no more and no less than normal,” said Bailey Noel, a beach patrol captain.

Nico Caceres, daily operations chief for the agency, added that he usually expects to see this number of jellyfish in the ocean later in July. But water temperatures have been slightly colder than average, he explained, despite recent heat waves on land.

According to DNREC, the species spotted — including the lion’s mane, the Atlantic sea nettle, the moon and the sea walnut varieties — prefer warmer waters but have been out in force lately.

The largest, the lion’s mane, has a sting that will irritate skin and is painful, but it’s not fatal to humans, environmental officials said. They feature bright tentacles, trailing as long as 120 feet behind, and a bell that could be 8 feet across.

Meantime, Atlantic sea nettles are smaller and feature white dots or reddish-brown stripes and trailing tentacles. They are very common in the Chesapeake Bay region, on the other side of the peninsula, and their stings are said to be especially painful but not deadly.

Moon jellies are the most easily identified, with their four horseshoe-shaped sacs on the bells, which are actually reproductive organs. Their tentacles are short, and their stingers generally aren’t strong enough to pierce the skin. But brush by one and you’ll know it.

Finally, sea walnuts are comb jellies, not true jellyfish, and are harmless to humans. One way this species differs from actual jellyfish is their lack of stingers; they instead use sticky cells called colloblasts.

Following a sting, opinions on treatments differ according to the species. Some popular suggestions include vinegar washes, baking soda rubs and direct application of meat tenderizers, specifically ones containing the enzyme papain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most stings can be treated by plucking out visible stingers with tweezers, soaking the skin in hot, but not scalding, water for 20-40 minutes and applying hydrocortisone cream to the area.

However, the option of applying human urine to a sting was dismissed as folklore by those offering advice.

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