Thousands of Atlantic Sea Nettle jellyfish are now swarming Tampa Bay area waters

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- If you are planning to go Tampa Bay-area beaches soon, you may want to reconsider taking a dip as thousands of Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish are now swarming local waters.

The jellyfish are mesmerizing and beautiful. But you do not want to get too close.

"I like the regular fish, not the Jellyfish," said Paul Gilligan, who was surprised to see one floating next to him in the waters of Longboat Key. "Yesterday was the start of the jellyfish."

Gilligan has seen even more since. That is why he grabbed a GoPro and headed out to show how easy it is to find one.

"They’re just like a flower just floating around. The one today is bigger," Gilligan said.

There are thousands of them -- far more than usual for this time of year. You can blame hurricanes like Irma and Nate. Normally, Moon and Comb jellyfish are more common.

The Atlantic Sea Nettle may look small, they average about 8 inches in diameter, but the jellyfish have very long tentacles that can stretch up to 6 to 8 feet.

Moon Jellyfish are about 12 inches in diameter (or the size of a dinner plate) and Comb jellies are about 14 inches in diameter (or the size of a serving plate). 

"I didn’t want to get stung so I went around it to a different area," said Gianna Lattuga, imagining what it'd be like to brush up against one. "Really painful and to urinate if you’re stung."

She isn't totally off.

"Yes, but we use [urine] as a last resort," said Andrew Angelo, an Aquarium Biologist and Jellyfish specialist at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Angelo says it is easier to use vinegar, something acidic or Lidocaine to numb the pain. He says the best time to enjoy the water is during low tide because the jellies are sucked out to deeper water. He also suggested wearing a rash guard or thick shirt to help protect against a sting.

Nothing is guaranteed to give you 100% protection from a tentacle's sting unless you stay out of the water.

"Kayaking is a really good option, that when you can see the jellies and not worry about getting stung by them," Angelo said.

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