Black Jellyfish Return to SD Shores

The elusive animal has only been seen four times since 2002

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Mark Leimbach
    Black jellyfish have been sited in San Diego.

    Did you see an ominous creature last time you went to the beach? You’re not the only one. Turns out black jellyfish have returned to San Diego’s shoreline.

    The gooey, dark purple sea nettles have made an appearance at various beaches throughout the county, including Coronado and Encinitas. Black jellyfish are exclusively witnessed along the California coast.

    Black jellyfish have only been seen in San Diego four times in the last 10 years, said executive director of Living Coast Discovery Center Dr. Brian Joseph.

    “They’re unusual animals in San Diego and they appear here every few years,” he said. “They’re a relatively unknown species.”

    The elusive animal has only been seen four times since 2002 and the last time they were in San Diego was two years ago, said Joseph.

    He said he’s not sure why the jellyfish have been showing up along the San Diego coastline this summer, but he speculates part of the reason is the water.

    “Jellyfish seem to proliferate in areas with bad water quality where you have low oxygen levels,” he said. “It reflects that the water quality is deteriorating….It doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to us, but there’s subtle differences that favor jellyfish and don’t favor other life forms.

    Black jellyfish can grow up to three feet wide, with tentacles spanning 10 feet long. And you might want to watch out for those dark-colored tentacles.

    “These guys will deliver a painful sting,” said Joseph.

    He recommends using vinegar to wash out a black jellyfish wound, and use something to scrape the tentacle off as rubbing it will cause more toxins to be injected.

    Even though the black sea nettles aren’t incredibly toxic, they aren’t jellies to be messed with.

    “Inside their tentacles there’s a coiled spring with a barb on the end of it, it’s very much like a taser that police use, only it injects venom,” Joseph said.

    People can now have an up-close look at the mysterious creatures without suffering a sting. The Living Coast Discovery Center has managed to place a few of the jellies in tanks for observation.

    “Jellyfish are a fascinating species.” Joseph said. “They’re also fascinating because they’re dangerous and they need to be respected for that.”
     

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