What to do if you are stung by a jellyfish this summer in NJ
Depending on where Jersey Shore beachgoers dip their toes into the ocean this summer, or even what point of the summer it is, they may have very different experiences with various types of jellyfish.
And no, those little slime pellets that stick to the body aren't jellyfish eggs — they're salps, literally a whole different animal, which are harmless.
Not so for the jellies, which range from the clinging jellyfish that deliver a "pretty powerful" sting to Portuguese man o' war whose bite is "definitely serious," according to Paul Bologna, director of marine biology at Montclair State University.
Clinging jellies are a non-native species from the Pacific that show up in back bays far more than the ocean, Bologna said, and whose population actually starts to drop off by this time of year.
But their stings could still eventually land a person in the emergency room, as can those coming in from the Atlantic.
"On the ocean side, we're getting lots of reports of these mushroom cap jellies, they're called rhopilema, and they can be really big," and pack a "pretty good" sting, Bologna said.
The Portuguese man o' war, by contrast, are just starting to show up now and will be here through August.
"We get those big afternoon winds that are onshore, they can get blown right along the coast, and then they get entrained in our coastal currents, and that's how they get brought up onto our beaches," Bologna said.
So what can someone do if they get stung?
For one thing, there is a product called "Sting No More" that Bologna advocates, and that lifeguards may carry.
But there are more common alternatives.
"The average person might use just white vinegar, and what that's going to do is kind of stabilize any stings that they might have, before wiping them away," Bologna said.
Swimming within view of the lifeguard stand is always advisable, according to Bologna, and is often the quickest remedy.
"That is the best prevention you can, because those people are trained. If you're stung, they know what to do. If there's a rip current, they know what to do. If, you know, you're foundering in the water," he said.
Bologna said a point-in-time look at which jellyfish are populating the shores of New Jersey, and when, relies on self-reporting.
That is leading to a few other key observations, though. He said similar to Massachusetts, the Garden State is starting to see more reports of great white sharks creeping closer and closer to shore.