Jellyfish showing up more along many Florida beaches

Experts say it's not unusual

Pass-A-Grille Beach is one of Megan Dunn's favorites. But last week she noticed something unusual.
 
"We're walking down and all of a sudden came across a bunch of jellyfish on the beach," Dunn said. "Looked like they've been washed up on the shore."
 
It's the first time Megan had seen so many.
 
"I was a little confused as to why all of a sudden so many were here," she said. "You rarely see just one jelly. So where there are jellies there are lots of jellies. Thousands of jellies, typically," Eric Hovland from the Florida Aquarium said.
 
Experts say beachgoers most likely saw moon jellyfish. They thrive in low oxygen environments like you see in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer. Tropical storms like Cristobal also play a big role no matter how far from our shore.
 
"All of that has a butterfly affect. It affects the winds, the tides, the currents, Gulf Stream. All this brings offshore animals sometimes up to our shores," Hovland said.
 
What Megan saw while walking along the beach, experts said, is a good indication of what may be lurking in the water. If you come across a lot of dead jellyfish washed ashore, you can be sure there are many more floating in the water.
 
"Bring friends," Hovland said. "More eyes on the water looking around and in clear water will help you see what else is out there."
 
Many jellyfish on our coast pack less of a punch compared to ones on the east coast. So far, there have been no increase in reports of stings.
 
"It's like a little itch. It might kind of bother you," Hovland said. 
 
Even thought the sight of them did bother Megan, it's not keeping her from soaking up the rays at her favorite beach.
 
"It's part of being at the beach in Florida," Dunn said. "It's going to happen every once in a while."
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