DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s a moon jellyfish free-for-all on central Florida beaches. An unusually large swarm of jellyfish have stung an estimated 1,200 beach-goers over four days in Volusia County.
Jellyfish are not unusual in the area. Winds and currents push them ashore once or twice a year, Volusia County spokeswoman Captain Tamra Malphurs says. But the volume is unusual.
Tonya Kronk of Daytona Beach was among the unlucky. She took her body board out past a sandbar, and “it wasn’t five minutes before I got stung,” she tells CNN. “It just kinda stuck to my leg… and I couldn’t get it off fast enough.” The injuries were “pretty bad,” she says.
Scientists aren’t certain if jellyfish blooms, which occur about every 20 years, are becoming more common. But zoologist Allen Collins tells Fox that warmer oceans, commercial fishing, agricultural runoff, and artificial reefs may be at least partly to blame.
Malphurs believes the uptick in stings on Florida beaches is probably due to the rising numbers of people using the beach rather than a change in temperature or weather.
If you get stung, a marine biologist at the South Carolina Aquarium recommends applying vinegar to the tentacles before trying to remove them. And it might help to keep in mind that jellyfish serve a useful purpose. Fish, birds, and crabs feed on them, and they provide shelter for juvenile fish. (Moon jellyfish shocked scientists with this feat.)