Photo: Mark Zastrow under a Creative Commons License.
Beach goers descending on Florida's Atlantic Coast came face-to-tentacles with a greater force over Memorial Day weekend. Countless mauve stinger jellyfish covered a ten mile stretch of beach in Brevard County, and before the weekend was out, they had sent more than 1,600 vacationers to life guard stations to be treated for stings.
A mauve stinger. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Pelagia noctiluca, or mauve stingers, are a lesser-known species of jellyfish. They're about the size of a golf ball, but live up to their name, with a potent, though not life-threatening, sting. No serious injuries were sustained during the attack, although two people were sent to the hospital for allergic reactions.
The jellyfish are not native to North America, originating in the Mediterranean and Pacific. They tend to stick to deeper water, but are occasionally washed ashore in giant numbers, as happened this week in Florida, and in Europe a few years back.
It's unclear whether or not climate change has anything to do with the latest offensive, but scientists say that the increased jellyfish populations are indicative of changing ocean conditions: warmer water, and fewer predators due to overfishing.
And while the mauve stingers haven't been seen in this part of Florida in a decade, it looks like the may be settling in for up to a year, reported Florda Today.
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More on jellyfish:
Jellyfish: Future Rulers of the Oceans (Slideshow)
Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan's Waters
Glowing Green Jellyfish Goo Could Power Medical Devices