Invasion of the Jellyfish

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010  |  Updated 3:44 PM PDT
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Raw video of the black sea nettle, a three foot long jellyfish, in <a title=San Diego Bay July 2010." />

Raw video of the black sea nettle, a three foot long jellyfish, in San Diego Bay July 2010.

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Large jellyfish are popping up along San Diego’s shoreline this week.

Scientists say a rare species of dark purple jellyfish is showing up in San Diego Bay and washing ashore on beaches.

Dr. Nigella Hillgarth of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday the Birch Aquarium has four of the jellies for display.

Hillgarth says the black sea nettle has turned up in coastal waters more frequently in recent years. Oceanographers don't know why, but think it may be due to warmer oceans or changes in the plankton populations the jellyfish eat.

An NBCSanDiego user captured a few images showing giant jellyfish spotted Sunday afternoon near Shelter Island. The woman, a San Diego resident who asked us to identify her as Nancy, spotted the lifeguards Sunday around 1 p.m. She was going out with a friend who owns a boat docked near Shelter Island when they spotted the jellyfish that appeared to be three to four feet long.

Some boat owners who live in that area told her that size was not common and hadn’t really been seen in the area before. “It started coming toward the boat’s vibrations. It was weird,” she said.

Point Loma-based photographer Jim Grant took several striking images of the jellyfish near La Playa Trail, close to the San Diego Yacht Club, and an NBCSanDiego photojournalist was able to shoot video of the strange sea creatures off Shelter Island on Wednesday.

The black sea nettle can grow up to 3 feet across with 30-foot-long tentacles.

Hillgarth says they sting, so boaters and beachgoers should admire them without touching.

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