Heat wave leads to early onset of jellyfish

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-17 21:37:16-04

Norfolk, Va. - The unseasonably early heatwave in Hampton Roads is leading to uncomfortable conditions around town for many residents, and many folks are flocking to the beaches for some relief.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 2.35.44 PMThere may, however, be another issue that arises in the water, and the issue is called Chrysaora quinquecirrha, or sea nettle jellyfish.

These jellyfish are small and clear, and usually come into the Chesapeake Bay in late June or early July as soon as the water gets warm enough. This year, however, the unusually hot weather has warmed up the water quickly, and the jellyfish are already here.

"They tend to follow a strict temperature/salinity regime very strictly. If you do like what we do and take the temperature and salinity of the river and [you can] pretty accurately predict where they are," says Chris Crippen from the Virginia Living Museum.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the bay water temperature is normally around 72 degrees in mid-June, but current readings have the water over 80 degrees. Because of this, the sea nettle jellyfish have already entered parts of the James River along the shores of Newport News, James City County, Suffolk, and Isle of White County.

The jellyfish that affect the bay are not the large or deadly type, but they can leave an irritated sting for a few days.

To treat a sting, scrape a credit card over the area to remove the small invisible needles they leave in your skin. Next, mix baking soda with water and apply the paste to the area to remove the poison.

Experts say the jellyfish will stay in our area until October when the water starts cooling off again.

--Andrew Green