Jellyfish infiltration at the Jersey Shore

August 16, 2012 2:55:11 PM PDT
Jellyfish have infiltrated part of Barnegat Bay. Thousands of those creatures are keeping many swimmers from going in the water.

They are called sea nettles, but most of us know them as jellyfish. They are fascinating, strangely graceful creatures unless you're stung by one!

Over the last several years, jellyfish have infested the northern Barnegat Bay, so much so, some people won't swim in some spots.


Now it's to the point where you can't go in the water," said Daniel Scardelli. "You know for sure if you jump in you're going to get stung."

"You see one, you see a thousand of them, and they are all sizes now. And in a square plot of water, there could be 10 of them at a time," said Kelly Scardelli.

It is reportedly worse in lagoons off the bay.

Donna Magliaro of Toms River says her family used to swim in the lagoon behind her house all the time, but wound up putting a pool in because the jellyfish became unbearable.

"We hear the kids now. If you hear them screaming, we used to run out. We didn't know what it was. Now we just know it's the jellyfish," said Donna Magliaro.

The jellyfish issue factors in to the results of a multi-year study by Rutgers that found the Barnegat Bay is in danger of dying.

In heavily developed areas like Toms River, storm water runoff and lawn fertilizers draining into the bay are lowering oxygen levels in the water. It's not good for fish, but the jellyfish still thrive.

Unfortunately the problem is spreading.

Researchers say that jellyfish infestations in the Barnegat have now reached as far south as Manahawkin and Long Beach Island.

"Environmentally it's a bad sign, but also again, if you talk about the tourist dollars around the Barnegat Bay, it's going to affect that if these populations continue to grow," said Chris Claus.

When the jellyfish numbers go up, boat and Jet Ski rentals go down.

And with an estimated $3 billion in annual tourist dollars generated by the bay, Claus and many others say the jellyfish infestation is an indication that the popular waterway needs help now.

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