NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As we approach Memorial Day weekend, wildlife officials are warning anyone headed to the Jersey Shore of toxic invasive jellyfish lurking in the water.
Scientists say where there is one, there are many. They’re talking about small spider-like clinging jellyfish.
The invasive species was first found in the Shrewsbury River in 2016 and have spread to the Metedeconk River, near the point it reaches Barnegat Bay – north of the Mantoloking Bridge.
“We’re just pulled algae and what we’re trying to look for is something called clinging jellyfish. The reason we’re trying to look for it is because they have a very lethal toxin,” Elias Chalet, a biology major at Montclair State said.
Montclair State University students and their professor, Paul Bologna, are working with the NJDEP to map out where these dangerous jellyfish are most prevalent. The educator knowns as “professor jellyfish” hopes this will help you choose where to swim.
Brick councilman Paul Mummolo is spreading the word.
“A lot of our beaches, our bay beaches, it’s important to educate the people on these clinging jellyfish… where they are so that something doesn’t happen,” Mummolo said.
“They carry these paralysis toxins that cause your muscles to tense up. They use those to catch fish so the fish don’t run away, but it also causes intense pain,” Prof. Bologna said.
So far, the group has found between 200 and 300 of the clinging jellyfish in the New Jersey waters.
Most were smaller than a half-inch; hiding in dark grassy areas.
Tips for anyone fishing or clamming this year, wear waders to avoid getting stung. For swimming, it may be best to hit the ocean beaches where you will not find any clinging jellyfish.
Later in the summer you may see colorful and also dangerous Portuguese Man O’ War jellyfish that come up the Gulf Stream from Florida.