By DENISE HERSCHEL
No, not the evil spirits that invaded a suburban home in the 1986 blockbuster movie, “Poltergeist.” Rather, these creatures are mostly transparent with a single reddish-orange cross, 60 to 80 tentacles and can be found lurking in waters at the Jersey Shore.
Wildlife experts are warning those who like to take a splash in the back bays of the Jersey Shore that they might suffer some stinging consequences from clinging jellyfish in the water.
According to New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, clinging jellyfish are small jellyfish that measure about one inch. They are typically found in bays and estuaries.
“They should be pretty concerned if they are out in the back bays, especially shallow water where there is a lot of vegetation, whether it us algae or seagrass because these guys have a really bad sting,” Dr. Paul Bologna, a Montclair State University marine biologist, said.
He added that if you get stung you will not feel the effects until hours later.
“Often times four or five hours later someone heads to the hospital because they are in incredible pain. They have got these paralysis toxins that course through someone’s body,” he said.
The non- native species, which was first confirmed in New Jersey in 2016, has been monitored since then by the State Department of Environmental Protection and by scientists at Montclair State University. The clingy jellyfish, a native of the Pacific Ocean, is small and very difficult to see in the water. They range from dime-sized to about the size of a quarter. They are not known to inhabit Ocean beaches or sandy areas but more in back bays and estuaries where they attach themselves to vegetation and algae.
Ron Simone, a Neptune City resident, said he is not concerned about this type of jellyfish because he only swims in the ocean.
“Of course in the ocean there are so many other creatures that you can come across but I can’t worry about it. If I did I would never go into the water,” he said.
Kathi Margot of Ocean Township agreed with him saying that she does not usually swim in bays.
“I know plenty of people who go fishing in the bays but I don’t think they are going swimming there. You always have to be cautious when going into the water,” she said.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, if you get stung, there are several things you should do.
“Rinse the area with salt water and remove any remaining tentacle materials using gloves or a thick towel. If symptoms persist, and pain increases instead of subsiding, seek medical attention promptly.”