BEACH HAVEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A mystery of the deep is unfolding in New Jersey after a rare sea creature washed ashore.
Suzanne Schenker and her two dogs, Clara Belle and Lars, were out for a walk last week in Beach Haven when they stumbled upon an odd-looking animal unlike anything they’d ever seen before.
“For some reason I looked down and there were these incredibly blue jellyfish in the sand,” she said. “They were so vibrant, it was unreal so I couldn’t help but stop and take notice.”
She posted a picture on Facebook to the group “New Jersey Jelly Spotters,” and discovered it was a blue button jellyfish. Jellyfish expert Paul Bologna, also known as “Professor Jellyfish,” says they’re so rare, even he’s never seen one in the Garden State.
“I’ve only seen them in Florida,” he said. “It’s an unusual creature, kind of like a mix of a clinging jellyfish and a Portuguese man o’ war.
Bologna says you shouldn’t be too worried if you spot one.
“All of these organisms have the potential to sting you, but they’re not really all that dangerous,” he said.
So how did the strange-looking critter get all the way here? Scientists thing the push of Hurricane Florence may have sent it this way.
“The blue button jellyfish is not a species from around here,” Rory Conner Hogan from Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant said. “They’re from subtropical areas, so it most likely hooked the Gulf Stream and got to our shores.”
Experts warn the warm current may have brought other stinging jellyfish our way, so you may still want to be careful where you step when strolling in the sand.
“If you’re stung, seek medical advice,” Hogan said. “Don’t rub the affected area because it will move the tentacles around and make the sting worsen.”
Professor Jellyfish is hoping someone comes across another blue button so its DNA can be studied.