A jellyfish never before seen in New Jersey has been spotted in northern Barnegat Bay by a local fisherman.
The clinging jellyfish, a dime-sized creature that can pack a nasty sting, was scooped up by local angler Josh Hart, who took it to Jenkinson’s Aquarium for identification, according to a report from NBC Philadelphia.
The aquarium then contacted jellyfish expert Dr. Paul Bologna of Montclair State University, whose team is going to perform DNA tests on the jellyfish to confirm the species identification and find out more about where it came from. Hart captured the jellyfish while fishing south of the mouth of the Point Pleasant Canal.
The clinging jellyfish, off the radar for decades, was first spotted again in 2013 by a marine researcher working in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Mary Carman, the scientist, was stung on her face while diving.
“It felt like hypodermic needles,” she said, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Carman investigated further and found reports of other recent incidents of clinging jellyfish stings at Sage Lot Pond in Falmouth, Mass., and the Menemesha Pond system on the Vineyard, the institute said in a news release at the time. She also found that clinging jellies have been observed elsewhere in Massachusetts, as well as in New Hampshire and New York waters.
The jellyfish is an invasive species from the Pacific, and its presence in Atlantic waters is not fully mapped. Multiple stings from the clinging jellyfish can cause “acute respiratory problems, joint pains, and acute dermatitis that can take days to heal,” according to the Woods Hole report.
Bologna said it is likely there are more clinging jellyfish where this first one in New Jersey came from.
“Generally, if you find one, there are more, because they had to come from somewhere,” he said, in the NBC report.