Where’d They Go? Sea Nettles Are MIA in the Chesapeake Bay.

Sea nettle - C_quinquecirrha
Several types of sea nettles, also called a jellyfish, infest the Chesapeake Bay seasonally. Some sting and some don’t, but since most of us don’t know the difference it’s best to stay away from them. (photo courtesy NOAA)

Sea nettles, also called jellyfish, normally would have trooped into the Chesapeake Bay by now, sending swimmers farther up rivers and streams toward fresher water.  Strangely, they’re not being reported.

ctenophore
“Ctenophores, variously known as comb jellies, sea gooseberries, sea walnuts, or Venus’s girdles,” courtesy University of California – Berkley

That’s good for us. But Tyler Butler of WBOC 16 reports our sea nettles eat another type of jellyfish called the ctenophore; if there are no jellies, then there must be more ctenophore. And they eat the same zooplankton that fish eat, but at a greater rate. Not good news for the Bay.

However, Tyler reports those ctenophore aren’t around either.

So where’d everybody go?

Tyler writes that the cold winter/spring may have killed off a lot of jellyfish, as it did crabs. Raleigh Hood with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science believes it could be just a normal sea nettle cycle.

Either way, water-lovers are enjoying what has been provided this season — few sea nettles.

NOAA sea nettle prediction map
National Weather Service map of typical sea nettle occurrence in the Chesapeake Bay this time of year

The National Weather Services has a website that predicts the amount of sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay.


Here’s some advice if you do get stung by a sea nettle:

Lightweight protective clothing, like a lycra “swim skin” or panty hose, or a layer of petroleum jelly spread on unprotected skin, will protect a swimmers against stings. If you are stung by a jellyfish, liberally sprinkling a meat tenderizer or baking soda (or vinegar for Physalia) on the sting may reduce the irritation. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are uncommon to jellyfish in U.S. waters, but emergency treatment is essential in such cases. – Dr. Jennifer Purcess, resident scientist at Shannon Point Marine Center, Western Washington University.


 

 

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