How long will moon jellies keep surfers, swimmers from ocean?


Jellyfish are chasing surfers and swimmers off the beach and out of the water.

The moon jellyfish, which have small, spiny tentacles that can rub against people and cause stings, began appearing in waters off St. Lucie County beaches about four weeks ago, said Andrew Ritchie, marine rescue director. That’s what it means.

Reporting was spotty. Ritchie said the jellyfish are mainly found near Fort Pierce Inlet and have affected beaches at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, a popular Florida surf spot known as the North Jetty. It is said that there is Pepper Park Beachside on North A1A and Blind Creek Beach on South A1A also have a lot of jellyfish, but Ritchie said Waveland Beach, the southernmost part of the county, doesn’t have as many. It is said that there is no.

Fort Pierce resident Carl Dougal took this photo of moon jellyfish lining the docks of the Fort Pierce City Marina on Monday, August 29, 2022. The moon jellyfish, named for its moon-shaped upper part, feeds on plankton that is swept in by the right wind. And the current situation.Fort Pierce resident Carl Dougal took this photo of moon jellyfish lining the docks of the Fort Pierce City Marina on Monday, August 29, 2022. The moon jellyfish, named for its moon-shaped upper part, feeds on plankton that is swept in by the right wind. And the current situation.

Fort Pierce resident Carl Dougal took this photo of moon jellyfish lining the docks of the Fort Pierce City Marina on Monday, August 29, 2022. The moon jellyfish, named for its moon-shaped upper part, feeds on plankton that is swept in by the right wind. And the current situation.

A swarm of moon jellyfish appeared on the Martin County coast about two weeks ago, but disappeared within a week, said Capt. Derrick Brown of the Martin County Marine Rescue Team. The infestation may have traveled north into St. Lucie County on wind and ocean currents, he said.

Then, about a week ago, a jellyfish infestation reached Indian River County beaches, said Patrick Sullivan, president of the Vero Beach Lifeguard Association. He expected it would be at least several weeks before they emerged from the water.

Moon jellyfish are seasonal, appearing at least once a year. In past years, lifeguards have seen them wandering around for three to five weeks, Ritchie said.

Jim Masterson, a research professor of marine ecology at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Marine Laboratory in Fort Pierce, said jellyfish numbers are low year-round in Florida, but their numbers increase during the warmer months.

They are typically most abundant in September and October, then disappear as the water cools. But it takes warm water temperatures combined with strong onshore winds and ocean currents to push them to shore.

Their migration is primarily driven by ocean currents, wind flow patterns and food availability, said Zach Judd, director of education at the Florida Marine Society in Stuart. Increases in moon jellyfish numbers often coincide with increases in plankton, the moon jellyfish’s favorite food.

A purple flag warning beachgoers of the possibility of moon jellyfish is seen on the beach at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Moon jellyfish started appearing in the ocean at St. Lucie County beaches about four weeks ago. Marine Rescue Director Andrew Ritchie.A purple flag warning beachgoers of the possibility of moon jellyfish is seen on the beach at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Moon jellyfish started appearing in the ocean at St. Lucie County beaches about four weeks ago. Marine Rescue Director Andrew Ritchie.

A purple flag warning beachgoers of the possibility of moon jellyfish is seen on the beach at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Moon jellyfish started appearing in the ocean at St. Lucie County beaches about four weeks ago. Marine Rescue Director Andrew Ritchie.

Still, Judd says even the most predictable patterns can change depending on water temperature, current upwelling, and climate change caused by fossil fuels.

Most people experience only a mild reaction to a moon jellyfish sting, but some people are more sensitive than others, leaving red marks and swelling.

The moon jellyfish has hundreds of small tentacles that line its upper outer edge. This differs from the Portuguese man-o-war, which has long tentacles that can inflict a very painful sting.

The problem with moon jellyfish is that they break into small pieces due to rough swells. If the sting is painful, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to the stung area.

Laurie K. Blandford is an entertainment reporter and columnist for TCPalm, dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and on Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Please email laurie.blandford@tcpalm.com. Sign up for her “What To Do in 772” weekly newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.

This article originally appeared in Treasure Coast Newspapers: Florida jellyfish stings people in St. Lucie to keep them out of the water





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