Invasion of the Jellyfish! Where to go to avoid them…

Jellyfish (also called nettles) are in the Chesapeake Bay, but they’re really coming out right now and mainly the middle section of the Bay.

They’re difficult to see. jellyfish are typically, but not always, clear and they have long tentacles dangling as they pulsate through the murky Bay water.

But you know when you come across one. First you’ll notice the tentacles; they feels like hair floating through the water. Then you feel the sting that doesn’t go away any time soon.

Chesapeake Bay jellyfish
Atlantic sea nettle: Chrysaora quinquecirrha (Courtesy the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)

 

And they’re going to hang around until about October. You’ll come across mainly moon jellyfish — peaceful, pretty, blobby things floating around.

The government tries to figure out where they are and provides some prediction in this NOAA Sea Nettles Guidance chart.

NOAA Chesapeake Bay jellyfish chart
NOAA Chesapeake Bay jellyfish prediction

NOAA actually has a sea nettle prediction website, but it’s usually out-of-service.

For a closer look, check out the data being filed from the area bouys.

Chesapeake Bay buoy information
Click on this image to go to the interactive NOAA chart of the Chesapeake Bay buoy system

The key to avoiding jellyfish is to find fresh water. There are several state parks with beaches just off the beaten path that are just out of jellyfish range. Privately-owned beaches in the salter Bay areas often have the swimming area surrounded by nets protecting sun bathers from stings.

Here’s where the jellyfish are hanging these days (you’ll notice the levels in river much lower than the Bay):

Percent Probability of Sea Nettles (from south Chesapeake on up) 

Cape Henry, VA (mouth of the Chesapeake Bay) – 2%

Jamestown, VA – 1%

Perrin, VA – 18%

Deltaville, VA – 52%

Point Lookout, VA – 71%

Mouth of Little Choptank River – 80%

National Harbor, VA (near DC) – .5%

Annapolis – 85%

Patapsco River (near Baltimore) – 45%

Susquehanna River (north of Baltimore) – 1%

What to Do When Stung by Jellyfish

If you get stung by a jellyfish, ChesapeakeBay.com suggests liberally sprinkling a meat tenderizer or baking soda on the hurting area depending on what kind of jellyfish you came across. If that doesn’t work, it might have been a PhYsalia (a man-of-war). Try vinegar. For more on jellyfish, where they come from, and the types you’ll come across, check out this ChesapeakeBay.com article on Jellyfish Facts.

The only way to avoid getting stung in jellyfish-infested waters, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program, is by wearing a wetsuit or pantyhose.

Pantyhose in summer, even in the water ->> Yuck emoji

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