VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Jellyfish are beginning to wash up on Virginia Beach as warmer ocean temperatures create a breeding ground, officials said.
Tom Gill, chief of the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service, says there’s been an influx of jellyfish over the past several days, adding that they sting, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
“It’s an irritation; some people are much more prone to the pain,” Gill said.
Julie Levans, senior curator at the Virginia Aquarium, says the breed found locally are most likely Chesapeake nettles which live in the Chesapeake Bay and smaller tidal bays where they’re mostly translucent or white. They reproduce in warm, salty water, she said.
Long stringy tentacles extend from the jellyfish’s body, or bell, and are used to capture prey. When the cells found on the tentacles come in contact with skin, it can feel like a mild stinging sensation or an intense bee sting depending on how a person’s body reacts to it, Levans said. Washing the skin with hot, not scalding, water or vinegar can relieve some of the discomfort, she said.
The current can take jellyfish ashore, where they’ll die, but Levans warns that even with the dead ones, the stinging cells are still active.
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