« Posts tagged Portuguese man of war

Seasons change but the Portuguese Man o War never do….

As the seasons and winds change in the U.S., the Portuguese Man o War begin to arrive in large numbers.

First of all, there are no real seasons for the Man o War, as such, but because of wind currents associated with season change and weather interruptions, the Man o War is on the leading edge of those winds since it has no propulsion system other than inflating it’s crown with gas and catching the wind.

man o war..beachedTx

What is typically recognized however, is the Man o War are, as a general rule, found along and around the Florida coast lines to Pensacola from late October thru February, the largest concentration generally in Nov and Feb.; the same as Costa Rica from March to May and to some degree the 10th day after every full moon in Hawaii. There is a long history of documenting these events so it is reasonable to believe these expectations every year.

Now, if you were stung by a Man o War, you were stung by an Atlantic Portuguese Man o’ War. There is no jellyfish specie known as a Man o’ War..A MOW is a siphonophore..a colony of 4 organisms..don’t have enough time and space to detail that ..there are 3 species of Man o War but all the same if that makes sense..the Atlantic, the recently acknowledge Pacific and the Blue Bottle Man o War..the Atlantic reported to have the nastiest sting but how would one compare them as all three are very painful. They differ in size with the Atlantic the largest and the blue bottle the smallest but don’t think for an instant that changes how nasty the stings are.

The indications that you have been stung by a Man O’ War are: Stinging, burning, redness, swelling of lymph nodes. You may see long welt lines. In some people sensitive to the Man O’ War venom, there may be severe reactions, including difficulty with breathing and cardiac arrest.

The sting toxin secreted from the tentacles is a neurotoxin about seventy-five percent as powerful as cobra venom. The welts can last for minutes to hours.

Studies on the effectiveness of meat tenderizer, baking soda, papain, or commercial sprays (containing aluminum sulfate and detergents) on nematocyst stings have been contradictory. It’s possible these substances cause further damage.

Check out our OCS Man o War sting 1st aid kit is specially designed to deliver medically proven, safe and effective sting relief from the MOW. Don’t get stung without it !!


Jellyfish return to nation’s coast

They’re back!  And we’re not talking hurricanes, though that season is officially underway.  And, no, this is not about sharks, since Discovery’s Shark Week doesn’t start until August.

No, it’s time for the increasingly unpopular annual return of swarms of jellyfish to beaches around the world. Last year they made much of the western Mediterranean unswimmable. A couple of weekend’s ago – the official start of summer — thousands of nasty, golf-ball sized jellyfish washed ashore on Florida’s east coast, stinging beach goers as they arrive. Red and Purple warning flags were posted on beaches from Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral.

In large part thanks to the over fishing of big predator fish and warmer ocean waters, jellies are showing up sooner, in bigger numbers and far beyond home territories. For the first time since 2006, the Portuguese Man o War are in numbers along the New England coast particularly the Hamptons.  In Florida they clogged the shallows and took over the wet sand of the beach. Lifeguard stands stocked up with vinegar-and-water solutions to help try and diffuse the itching, burning and rashes, which beats urinating on them, though its proven that OCS Jellyfish sting relief neutralizes the sting and helps alleviate itching and swelling.

IMG_3501     ManOWar-kit

Despite air temps in the 90’s and water temperature of 80+, it’s not just the abundance of jellyfish in Florida’s that was surprising, it was the species. Large numbers of animals washing ashore are the Pelagia Noctiluca or mauve stinger, the cannonball and the Portuguese Man o War although not in abundance yet.  Compact but fitted with long tentacles, these are exactly the same jellyfish that harassed Mediterranean beaches during the summer of 2012 and present this summer.


Scientists believe they were transported across the Atlantic in the Gulf Stream, which wraps around the coast of Florida, suggesting they will be a hindrance on many Gator state beaches this summer. Meanwhile across the pond, biologists who study the Irish Sea are blaming a similar boom in jellyfish there on the overfishing of herring, which has given jellyfish an “exponential boost” in population. The trend has been growing since 2005.

Though explanation for why these jellyfish on these beaches is still being studied, it’s clear that since humankind has taken 100 to 120 million tons of predators out of the sea in the past 20 years it’s left plenty of room for jellyfish populations to boom. Jellyfish thrive in disturbed marine ecosystems, from dead zones to seabeds that have been raked by trawling nets. And they are spreading around the world thanks to powerful currents and aided by stowing away on fleets of ships delivering goods around the globe.

Be sure to take along Ocean Care Solutions marine sting 1st aid products..your Solution for marine sting injuries…

Portuguese Man o War…spotted worldwide

The Portuguese Man o’ War  can be found anywhere in the open ocean (especially warm water seas), but they are most commonly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans, and the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream. The Man o’ War has been found as far north as the the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine.

They wash ashore along the northern Gulf of Mexico and the east and west coasts of Florida.  An abundance of Portuguese Man o’ Wars can be found in the waters of Costa Rica, especially in March and April.  They have been spotted recently off the coast of Spain, Ireland, in Welsh waters and in the Mediterranean near Corsica and Malta.

They are also frequently found along the east coast of South Africa, (particularly during winter storms if the wind has been blowing steadily on-shore for several hours), as well as around the Hawaiian Islands.  Strong onshore winds may drive them into bays or onto beaches. It is rare for only a single Portuguese Man o’ War to be found; the discovery of one usually indicates the presence of many as they are usually congregated by currents and winds into groups of thousands. Man o’ Wars typically travel in groups of 1,000-plus.


Don’t get stung without it!!


Dive Flag App Travels, Shop & Product Reviews

Product Review – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

About Ocean Care Solutions

Ocean Care Solutions’ (OCS) first aid products were developed by Kevin, a certified scuba diver. Kevin noticed that there was no convenient, proven medically effective, first aid products for stings from the Lionfish, the Man of War, the Sea Urchin, the Stingray, Fire Coral and Jellyfish. For two years Kevin consulted with international marine science and emergency medical communities to develop what they refer to as ‘the definitive Gold Standard’ for sea sting injuries. All OCS’s products have been developed without the reliance of myths, home remedies or guesswork.
Ron at OCS got in contact with Dive Flag App in a hope to have their product reviewed and publicized to Scuba Divers around the world. After initial discussions OCS sent us, here at Dive Flag App, a package containing a few hundred samples to test and distribute to other Dive Flag App members.  Today we had the opportunity to test their most ‘popular’ product the Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution (JSR Solution). This was a timely arrangement as Australia is currently experiencing an outbreak of jellyfish including the Blue Blubber Jellyfish (common name).

Product Description – Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution

OCS’s JSR Solution was developed to neutralize the stinging cells of jellyfish. The solution suspends any remaining pain causing nematocysts (stinging cells) from firing.  The directions of use are as follows:
  1.  Rinse the injury with salt water only,
  2.  Shake the spray and simultaneously press down on the top to pump the solution,
  3.  Apply the safe JSR Solution for 3-5 minutes, and then
  4.  Simply scrape away the pain.  Re-apply if necessary.
The application of the JSR solution is to ‘de-activate’ the jellyfish stinging cells. For the best results it is recommended that you apply the JSR Solution as soon as possible after having been stung. Delay in the use of this product limits effectiveness.
The JSR Solution comes in a small and convenient spray bottle made with medically recommended 5% acetic acid for the best results.

Product Trial

Dive Flag App were naturally skeptical about the effectiveness of OCS’s JSR Solution and so we decided to test the product out. Before reading further it is important to note that Dive Flag App did so under the supervision of trained emergency personnel and in no way is Dive Flag App suggesting that other members perform the following test.
Frank Vorster located two Blue Blubber Jellyfish in the Gold Coast Seaway, Queensland, Australia. He proceeded to sting himself in two ‘similar’ locations by lightly pressing up against the tentacles of the two jellyfish as they floated by. To one location he applied the JSR Solution and to the other he applied nothing. Eager to test the product out – others part-took in the experiment too.


  1. Within one minute, the stinging sensation on the hand with the JSR Solution started to subside whilst the second location’s continued to intensify as more stinging cells activated.
  2. After five minutes the stinging sensation on the location with the JSR Solution had all but faded completely, whilst the stinging sensation of the second location continued.
  3. Frank wiped the location with the JSR Solution as directed. The location where he had applied the JSR Solution appeared unaffected. Whilst having  wiped off the second location in a similar fashion had only activated the remaining stinging cells, effectively reactivating the sting.
  4. For a further 25 minutes Frank felt the stinging sensation on the second location whilst the location where the JSR Solution was applied felt “like it was never stung”.

Product Review

The JSR Solution performed as OCS had claimed. The product was easy to apply and immediately effective. The quality is guaranteed by OCS’s Californian manufacturing facility. A single 1oz bottle can be used to relieve 4 stings and the 4oz bottle can relieve up to 12 stings. With a shelf life of over 2 years the product can be stored without concern.
  • Price: 5/5
  • Effectiveness: 5/5
  • Quality: 5/5
  • Product Recommendation: Don’t get stung without it! Don’t go diving without it!
Dive Flag App highly recommend that all beach going, water sport activists and especially scuba divers keep a bottle of the solution in their bag. The product is incredible effective and useful.

Where to Buy the Product

Dive Flag App is so impressed with the effectiveness of the solution, we have worked out an arrangement with Ocean Care Solutions to become the exclusive distributor for these products. Dive Flag App is currently developing an on-line store where you can buy the product. If you would like a sample, to purchase some units for personal use or become a retailer for these products, simply email us for more information: info@diveflagapp.com .

Blessed Diving,

Dive Flag App

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Jellyfish outbreaks may last longer…Sea of Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Massive outbreaks of Echizen kurage giant jellyfish in the Sea of Japan may be prolonged this year, which could greatly damage local fishing industries, according to marine biologists.

Statistics show that the number of jellyfish outbreaks will be larger than usual for the first time in three years. Though the reason behind the increase is unknown, fishermen are preparing countermeasures, such as setting fishing nets to catch them.

Echizen jellyfish are born in the spring along Chinese coasts in the Yellow Sea, as well as the East China Sea. They move north along the Tsushima Current and arrive in Japanese waters starting in mid-July. Afterward, they usually drift out into the Pacific Ocean via the Tsugaru Channel in early October.

Some Echizen jellyfish have hoods two meters in diameter and weigh nearly 200 kilograms.

A research team led by Hiroshima University Prof. Shinichi Ue has conducted annual surveys of the number of jellyfish per 100 square meters in the Yellow Sea between June and November since 2006. The survey is used to predict how many jellyfish will arrive in Japanese waters.

This year, the team found 0.44 jellyfish per 100 square meters in July. The number is 730 times larger than the 0.0006 found in 2010, when hardly any jellyfish-related damage was reported, and about nine times larger than the 0.05 reported in 2011.

Usually, the number of jellyfish found in the Yellow Sea peaks in July. However, the figure has remained high this year, registering between 0.2 and 0.5 in August and 0.16 in September.

Compared to last year’s figures, the number was 10 to 71 times larger in August and 2,285 times larger in September. The figures were close to those recorded years of jellyfish population explosions–0.21 in August 2007, 0.55 in August 2009 and 0.2 in September 2009.

According to JF Shimane, a fisheries cooperative in Matsue, Echizen jellyfish are usually caught in fixed fishing nets in early and mid-August. However, this year, 20 to 150 jellyfish were caught daily in fixed nets of Okinoshima island, even in September.

“We can’t afford to let down our guard,” an association official said.

“It’s possible that the jellyfish will flood Japan’s coastline if their numbers continue to increase in October or November,” Ue said.

Ocean Care Solutions, Inc. Maintains 5% Acetic Acid Jellyfish Sting Relief Solution as most effective sting aid

The company continues to break ground with innovative new products while remaining committed to scientific and medical sting protocol standards..Los Angeles, Ca.

Ocean Care Solutions, Inc., specializing in state of the art marine sting first aid kits and 5% acetic acid jellyfish sting relief spray, continues to break ground with innovative new products while remaining committed to scientific and medical sting protocol standards established through decades of research dating back to 1984. “We specifically developed our jellyfish sting relief spray as well as all our products to be at the core of effective jellyfish and select marine sting relief first aid based on first hand experience and the sheer volume of medical and scientific reports, publications and medical professional recommendations,” says Kevin Freeman, President of Ocean Care Solutions, Inc.

“The use of acetic acid as a sting neutralizer on a expansive variety of jellyfish species, clearly embraced by medical and scientific organizations worldwide, remains at the center of our family of marine sting first aid products,” claimed Freeman. ” The secret to our product lies in the precise acetic acid concentration perfectly suspended in a spray that elegantly doubles as a means of stinging cell removal while addressing welts,” continued Freeman. The company reports Ocean Care marine sting products have consistently exhibited safe and effective sting pain relief as increasing numbers of consumers utilize the kits and jellyfish sting relief spray in the U.S., Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific Rim markets. The company produces four state of the art marine animal sting first aid kits including a stingray, sea urchin, fire coral and Portuguese man o’ war first aid pack. Each kit contains all the medical components necessary to meet and exceed the generally accepted medical first aid guidelines for each specific animal sting injury including gloves, tweezers, bandages, ointments and a snap activated heat bar capable of maintaining 118 degrees for 20 minutes. “The addition of the heat bar is significant since applying heat has been scientifically proven to be far better than ice (Australian Medical Journal 2006). “In the field, there are few, if any, hot water sources found which results in significant delays in addressing a sting injury, so providing the heat bar is an important part in attaining effective pain relief,” affirms Freeman.

Ocean Care Solutions’ full line of marine sting products incorporate the most comprehensive medical and marine science first aid protocols for likely but unfortunate run-ins with a number of stinging sea animals including the man o’ war. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ a sting will occur. While acetic acid is the standard recommendation for jellyfish, the man o’ war sting injury first aid protocol has been changed in some nation locations but not necessarily adopted by all U.S. medical directors.

The man o’ war, commonly referred to as a jellyfish, is actually a colony of organisms called a siphonophore that delivers a very potent sting toxin. It is arguably one of the ocean’s most dangerous cnidarians along with the Box and Irukandji found in Australian waters. Recent guideline changes in Australia, reflect a concern that the presence of acetic acid in first aid may intensify the stinging pain for a Man o War injury. This change contradicts decades of research recommending the application of vinegar for the Man o War sting by the very same organization. A number of U.S.medical resources have adopted those guidelines out of organizational respect but disagreement exists with medical authorities over whether to use vinegar or not on specifically the man o’ war envenomation.

Specially formulated with 5% acetic, OCS Jellyfish Sting Relief is available in a convenient 1 oz individual size and a 4oz. family size...

“Admittedly, not all scientists and medical professionals agree, but we maintain, based on the strength of evidence employing acetic acid on marine stings, our line of products has shown a consistent pattern as 100% effective, including use on the man o’ war, ” continued Freeman. “We invested years of research investigation and corroborating jelly sting first aid reports from the who’s who of international marine sting medical institutions and scientific professionals. This includes those from well respected research institutions in Australia. A dependable pattern of unbiased, fact-based science emerged from the mix,” claims Freeman. “At least until now,” continued Freeman.

Ocean Care Marine Sting first aid kits are specially designed to meet the accepted medical protocol to deliver effective pain relief for the Man o War, Stingray, Sea Urchin & Fire Coral injuries..

It should be noted generally accepted international toxic marine envenomation medical protocol has been and generally is the medical standard established within Australian waters and, therefore, centered on regional animal research only. International medical institutions, including well respected U.S. organizations, routinely adopt Australia’s marine sting first aid guidelines including the man o’ war. Australian waters are widely recognized for being the home of some of the sea’s deadliest animals so the research, scientific, medical and life-saving reports from the region are considered ground zero of toxic marine emergency science.

But, with apparent differences within this order of man o’ war, animals found in Australian waters (Physalia utriculus) known locally as the Bluebottle and the Atlantic man o’ war (Physalia physalis), both very dangerous stingers, remains the question of acetic acid. The Bluebottle is half the size of the Man o war, has only one tendril compared to dozens and there have been no recorded fatalities associated with a Bluebottle. The larger specie has been tied to fatalities as a result of being stung, ” says Freeman. “It’s our belief, based on the biological differences and presumed differences in toxicity, acetic acid belongs in the protocol. The good news is everything needed if stung by a man o’ war is in the kit including acetic acid so the injured can decide for themselves, ” concluded Freeman.

Also worth noting, however, is the presence of publications in direct conflict with Australian recommendation found in journal records from equally respected U.S. medical institutions. “So, which highly respected recommendation does the public accept as the definitive first aid?” questioned Freeman. “Whether to use or not use acetic acid is not a debate any one wants to have once stung by a man o’ war,” reasoned Freeman. Consider a recent medical report filed in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians. This article outlines a marine sting study utilizing lidocaine (OCS spray is lidocaine free) on typical jellyfish injuries and acetic acid for the man o’ war injury. To muddy the waters further, this journal entry appears to be in conflict with a 2007 and a 2009/10 FDA issued public alert about serious and life-threatening risks associated with improper use of topical anesthetics including lidocaine. Information regarding adverse event claims associated with the use of marine sting products containing lidocaine are available through the FDA’s MedWatch Program.

“Our company marine sting philosophy is drawn from controlled trials, actual consumer experience, and field observations in the U.S. in conjunction with feedback by highly respected physicians and marine scientists”, said Freeman. “We rely on evidence based science gathered from medical journals so, while there are differing medical opinions and research periodicals, our company recognizes the medical research submissions by Dr. Paul S. Auerbach, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, and author of a series of highly regarded wilderness medicine books (Wilderness Medicine 7th Edition) as the leading authority on marine stings,” claims Freeman. Dr. Auerbach recommends the use of acetic acid on the man o’ war injury. (Dr. Auerbach has not endorsed Ocean Care Solutions, Inc. product line).

“From the very beginning, we made a conscious decision to adopt Dr. Paul S. Auerbach’s medical opinions over a few who championed the use of the topical anesthetic, lidocaine,” continued Freeman. “Our company has no reservations about our decision to reject lidocaine in favor of acetic acid to deliver effective and meaningful first aid sting relief,” continued Freeman. “Human nature is a factor during a marine sting episode. When a person is in a pained, stressful situation from sustaining a marine sting injury and left to self-medicate, there is a greater chance for error of inadvertent exposure to harm and abuse. Given the real dangers associated with a lidocaine-infused product, we believe consumer safety to be a more compelling reason not to incorporate it in our products, as well as the systemic lack of true first aid.

We use just over a 5% acetic acid formula,” says Freeman. “Urine on a sting injury is a total myth, meat tenderizer is little more than that, baking soda paste has limited soothing powers, and lidocaine infused applications may provide some limited numbing pain relief but we have to ask what happens once the anesthetic wears off,” reasoned Freeman. “The last thing a sting victim needs is additional, serious, medical concerns. Our sting product delivers the safest, most effective, and sustainable first aid pain relief on the market today. We don’t just cover up the continuing injury with topicals, we stop the pain dead in its tracks” says Freeman.

The bottom line is this: OCS relief spray is the only first aid relief that neutralizes the stinging cells, soothes the injury site, and provides a mechanical transport means to remove remaining matter. The addition of the heat from the supplied bar in kits completes the formula for genuine first aid, not a temporary numbing. The jellyfish sting relief spray and the kit includes easy to understand instructions in the durable, water tight, distinctive gold foil pouch. Doctor and medical facility recommended, Ocean Care Solutions, Inc. is bringing effective marine sting first aid solutions to the consumer.

The Compass jellyfish…or is that a Moon jelly??

The Compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella),  is a very common species living in coastal waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, including near the U.K. and Turkey.  It occurs in coastal waters all round the British Isles. It is prevalent off the south and west coasts of England and Wales and has been recorded of the coast of Cumbrian, the Isle of Man and the north coast of Ireland

It has a diameter of up to 12 inches and has 24 tentacles arranged in eight groups of three.  The compass is usually yellowish white, with some brown, has a saucer-shaped bell, with 32 semi-circular lobes around the fringe, each one with a brown spot. On the upper surface of the bell, 16 brown V-shaped marks radiate outwards from a dark central spot. The mouth, the only opening to the exterior, is located on the centre of the underside of the bell, and is surrounded by 4 arms.

Often confused with the Moon (Aurelia aurita), the stinging cells and venom of Chrysaora hysoscella are strong and can produce painful, long lasting welts in humans.

Ocean Care Solutions 5% acetic acid jellyfish sting relief has proven effective on an expanse of stinging species.  Safe and effective and always lidocaine free…Don’t get stung with it !!

What you need to know about Cnidaria phylum; the stinging family of jellies

They have several different basic morphologies that represent several different cnidarian classes including the Scyphozoa (about 200 species), Staurozoa (about 50 species), Cubozoa (about 20 species), and Hydrozoa (about 1000-1500 species that make jellyfish and many more that do not). The jellyfish in these groups are also called, respectively, scyphomedusae, stauromedusae, cubomedusae, and hydromedusae; “medusa” (plural “medusae”) is another word for jellyfish. Jellyfish are found in every ocean, from the surface to the deep sea. Some hydrozoan jellyfish, or hydromedusae, are also found in fresh water.

Jellyfish don’t have specialized digestive, osmoregulatory, central nervous, respiratory, or circulatory systems. They digest using the gastrodermal lining of the gastrovascular cavity, where nutrients are absorbed. They do not need a respiratory system since their skin is thin enough that the body is oxygenated by diffusion. They have limited control over movement, but can use their hydrostatic skeleton accomplish movement through contraction-pulsations of the bell-like body; some species actively swim most of the time, while others are passive much of the time. Jellyfish are composed of more than 90% water; most of their umbrella mass is a gelatinous material – the jelly – called mesoglea which is surrounded by two layers of epithelial cells which form the exumbrella (top surface) and subumbrella (bottom surface) of the bell, or body.

Jellyfish do not have a brain or central nervous system, but rather have a loose network of nerves, located in the epidermis, which is called a “nerve net”. A jellyfish detects various stimuli including the touch of other animals via this nerve net, which then transmits impulses both throughout the nerve net and around a circular nerve ring, through the rhopalial lappet, located at the rim of the jellyfish body, to other nerve cells. Some jellyfish also have ocelli: light-sensitive organs that do not form images but which can detect light, and are used to determine up from down, responding to sunlight shining on the water’s surface.

As I’ve said, Jellyfish has no bones, brains, head, heart, eyes, nor ears. But what a sting! The sting of some “jellies,” can be deadly while others are harmless to humans. Jellyfish are not fish at all. They are invertebrates, relatives of corals and sea anemones.  Here’s what to do….

1st…Don’t get stung but if you do…

A jellyfish fires its poison whenever its tentacles brush against an object. In humans, the poison usually causes a sharp, burning sensation that may last from minutes to hours.

1. Take note of jellyfish warning signs posted on the beach.

2. Be careful around jellies washed up on the sand. Some still sting if their tentacles are wet. Tentacles torn off a jelly can sting, too.

3. If you are stung, wash the wound with salt water only (DO NOT USE FRESH WATER as this can release additional toxins) then apply Ocean Care Solutions 5% acetic acid spray or vinegar..OCS spray being more effective.

4. Lifeguards usually give first aid for stings. See a doctor if you have an allergic reaction.

All jellies sting, but not all jellies have poison that hurts humans. Of the 2,000 species of jellyfish, only about 70 seriously harm or occasionally kill people. Listed below are the more dangerous jellies and where you can find—and avoid—them.

Lion’s mane

Atlantic Ocean from above the Arctic Circle to Florida; Gulf of Mexico; Pacific Ocean from Alaska to southern California

Portuguese man-of-war

Gulf of Mexico; Caribbean Sea near the Bahamas; West Indies; Mediterranean and the North Sea

Sea nettle

Chesapeake Bay; Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Southern California; Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Florida; Gulf of Mexico

Sea wasp

Pacific Ocean near northern Australia, Philippines

Always have Ocean Care Solutions First Aid Kits and Certified 5% acetic acid jellyfish sting first aid lotion on hand..

Don’t get stung without it!

Barnegat Bay jellyfish spreading south

No Title

Article by Kirk Moore courtesy of Asbury Park Press…www.app.com  A Gannett Company

Stinging sea nettle jellyfish have spread to the southern reaches of Barnegat Bay, likely the result of a huge surge of jellyfish spawning during their 2011 population explosion, say scientists who are tracking the gelatinous animals again this summer.

“Last year was a banner year for these guys. I’m guessing the larval delivery was huge,” said professor Paul Bologna, the director of aquatic and coastal sciences at Montclair State University. This summer, Bologna got a call from a lagoon resident near the Route 72 causeway toward the bay’s southern end, asking him to identify a jellyfish.

Bologna and his colleague, professor John Gaynor, went to investigate the area.

“We went in and there’s thousands of them in the lagoon. But none in the bay,” he said. So far this summer, researchers know the jellyfish are as far south as Manahawkin in Stafford and have been reported just south of Waretown and the bay side of Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island, Bologna said.

That means the sea nettles vaulted what had been thought of as a barrier — the saltier, better-flushed central bay inside Barnegat Inlet. But it’s apparent “the salinity really isn’t the limiting factor,” Bologna said.

The new sightings come on the heels of a grim Rutgers University report that says the bay’s ecological decline has spread south since the 1990s, as measured by a suite of indicators for water quality and environmental health, such as declining clams and underwater eelgrass beds.

While the southward advance is alarming, jellyfish conditions in the bay’s north end are not so severe as 2011, although people still should check it out before diving off a boat.

“This year in the northern part of the bay, they’re considerably less,” said Bologna, who with Gaynor and students measures the density of the swarms. Typical blooms in places like Kettle Creek and the Metedeconk River this year show one or two sea nettles per cubic meter (about a cubic yard) of water, compared to counts as high as 30 in 2011, he said.

Montclair State College professor Paul Bologna examines a stinging nettle that was acquired in the Toms River .

Montclair State College professor Paul Bologna examines a stinging nettle that was acquired in the Toms River . / THOMAS P. COSTELLO/staff photographer

“Last year was unbelievable,” said John Petrillo, director of youth sailing at the Bay Head Yacht Club, the biggest program on the bay with 167 students. “This summer, I haven’t treated any kids (for stings), which is unusual.”

Sea nettles have infested the bay’s northern end since at least 2004, when the first big summer swarms were seen, and can make some areas unswimmable for most of the summer. It’s uncertain why their numbers exploded, but Bologna has identified likely factors, ranging from the bay’s changing ecological conditions to the use of plastic in docks, which is an ideal surface for sea nettles in their polyp stage.

Sea nettle larvae settle on those surfaces and change into polyps, which bud off to create more of themselves. That kind of exponential reproduction is probably what’s populating the newly infested lagoons, Bologna said.

The bay’s north end is adjacent to Ocean County population centers and takes the brunt of nutrient pollution from stormwater runoff. Jellyfish can do well in those waters because they can tolerate the low-oxygen conditions that result from high temperatures and rotting algae blooms in summer, Bologna said.

Those conditions are common in lagoons with little flow or tidal flushing, so that could be why jellyfish in the south are in lagoons but not so much the open bay, he said.

Tidal flushing doesn’t do much for either end of the bay far from Barnegat Inlet, Bologna said. “It’s like an accordion. It squeezes the middle.”

Bologna said waterfront residents can report jellyfish sightings to the project by emailing him at bolognap@mail.montclair.edu


Jellyfish Growth May Be Warning Sign

Reported population increase could point to imbalance in the ocean environment

Written by Mike Lee www.utsandiego.com)

Legions of local swimmers have learned a painful lesson about avoiding black jellyfish that are surfacing from Imperial Beach to Oceanside this summer in what has become something of a regular occurrence for the once-rare creatures.

But scientists say the billowy umbrellas may be teaching us a more profound lesson about the declining state of the world’s oceans. The combination of warmer waters, global overfishing of jellyfish predators and other factors have created what some researchers have dubbed a “more gelatinous future.”

Studies suggest that a transition toward slime-filled waters is already under way in places such as the Bering Sea, the Irish Sea and the Sea of Japan, which was invaded by millions of giant jellies last year. Consequences go far beyond the discomfort felt by stung beachgoers: Overwhelming numbers of jellyfish have reportedly clogged power station water intakes, poisoned fish and even sunk a 10-ton vessel by weighing down its nets until the boat capsized.

“I guess you would say that jellyfish are an indicator — the more you see, the more you could suspect that something was out of balance in the environment,” said Brian Joseph, executive director of the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

“Jellyfish are interesting in that they are increasing in numbers very much like the Humboldt squid — and that is not necessarily a good thing,” he said. “Jellyfish have adaptations that allow them to be successful in environments where fish aren’t. They have a wider tolerance for water conditions than some of the species that are commercially important to us.”

The center recently acquired more than a dozen of the black sea nettles — another name for the black jellyfish — in San Diego Bay and has them on display. A handful of other species are common in local waters, including the well-known moon variety. Aquarists said there’s no noticeable jump in the overall numbers of jellyfish this year compared with the recent past. But there was at least one painful pulse of them in mid-July, when lifeguards reported 160 jellyfish stings at Torrey Pines, Leucadia and Encinitas on a single day.

A 2010 study by researchers in the United Kingdom said jellyfish grew more abundant in the Irish Sea between 1994 and 2009, a phenomenon linked to increased sea temperatures, which in turn have been linked to climate change. A separate study several years earlier also found “evidence for a substantial increase in gelatinous zooplankton in the Bering Sea,” with a possible connection to global warming.

Jellywatch.org, created with support from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, allows scientists and laymen to track jellyfish sightings worldwide with an interactive map. It says jellyfish are an important component of oceanic food webs, and it noted reports that jellyfish have increased their territory and shifted their distributions globally in recent decades.

“Undoubtedly, there are associated ecological ramifications such as food web … alterations,” said the group’s website. “Socio-economic impacts include damage to fisheries, industry and tourism. However, reports have remained local in scope, and scientists agree that a composite understanding of the extent of the problem is still lacking.”

Steven Haddock, a researcher at the Monterey Bay institute, helped to establish the online tracking site two years ago, and said it has helped to document the movement of jelly species beyond their known ranges and to watch blooms spread in real time.

“We are just trying to get this global picture,” he said, noting the difficulty detecting large-scale changes against the backdrop of annual variation and decadal cycles.

For now, at least, he’s skeptical about the prevailing narrative about the increase in jellyfish due to climate change, saying many reports about the creatures could be driven mainly by technology.

“In the age of Twitter and Flickr, you just have so many more mechanisms for hearing about a jellyfish bloom,” he said. “Maybe they are increasing. Maybe they are not. We don’t really know.”

San Diego’s black jellies were identified as a separate species in 1997, making them what Living Coast called the largest invertebrate discovered in the 20th century. They are only known to inhabit marine waters between Monterey Bay in the north and Mexico in the south. They turned up in large numbers two summers ago and wowed beach visitors again this year.

Nigella Hillgarth, executive director of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, said the black jellies have been showing up along the county coastline since June.

“They have started to have an annual bloom,” she said. “I remember 10 years ago they were incredibly rare.”

She figures they come from Baja in deep water and they feed on the algae offshore — but what determines their local appearance at a given time remains unclear. They tend to gain the attention of beachgoers only when large numbers of them are washed into the shallows by wind and waves.

Hillgarth said the current bloom should taper off over the next few weeks, because she’s not seeing any young jellies. Most local specimens are reportedly about the size of a dinner plate, with tentacles 1 to 3 feet long.

“We know very little about them,” said Hillgarth, whose aquarium also has black jellies on display. “There is still a big mystery about where they are most of the time.”