TRENTON, NJ — The discovery of clinging jellyfish in bay waters off Island Beach State Park has prompted another warning by state environmental officials for boaters and swimmers to be alert for the tiny creature with the powerful sting.

The Department of Environmental Protection on July 10 expanded its recreational use advisory for the entire Barnegat Bay after the presence of 40 clinging jellyfish was confirmed in its north-central region — at Jonny Allens Cove on the bayside of Island Beach State Park and in eelgrass beds on the north side of Tices Shoal, a popular boating and watercraft area on the bay side of the park.  The jellyfish collected in both areas were in varying stages of maturation.

The advisory follows others previously issued by DEP for recreational users of northern Barnegat Bay, the Metedeconk River in Ocean County and the Shrewsbury and Manasquan rivers in Monmouth County.

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Clinging jellyfish, a native to the Pacific Ocean, is not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas, but tends to attach itself to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays and estuaries —  areas not heavily used for swimming.

In Barnegat Bay, beds of sea grass can provide ideal habitat for clinging jellyfish, which are very small and hard to see in the water. The clinging jellyfish ranges from the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. It has a distinctive red, orange or violet cross across its middle. DEP encourages the public to use common sense and caution in areas where jellyfish are suspected. Anyone wading through these areas, especially near sea grass, should wear boots or waders to protect themselves.

The clinging jellyfish was first confirmed in New Jersey in 2016 in the Manasquan River at the Point Pleasant Canal. DEP has been working with Montclair State University in studying the possible distribution of clinging jellyfish in New Jersey.

For a map of locations where clinging jellyfish have been confirmed and sites that have been investigated but no clinging jellyfish were found, click here.

The clinging jellyfish is small and difficult to spot in the water. A sting can produce severe pain and other localized symptoms and can result in hospitalization in some individuals.

If stung by a clinging jellyfish:

  • Apply white vinegar to the affected area to immobilize any remaining stinging cells.
  • Rinse the area with salt water and remove any remaining tentacle materials using gloves or a thick towel.
  • A hot compress or cold pack can then be applied to alleviate pain.
  • If symptoms persist or pain increases instead of subsiding, seek prompt medical attention.

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