Rare jellyfish invaded south Laguna Beach, California, over the Fourth of July. Numerous swimmers at the Thousand Steps Beach reported receiving stings from dark colored jellyfish.
Authorities believe one or more black nettle jellyfish invaded the area, stinging swimmers with their incredibly long tendrils.
Witnesses described the jellyfish as dark in color. Tendrils found clinging to their skin confirmed that the jellyfish were either black or dark red. One witness spotted a jellyfish “the size of a hula-hoop.”
As reported by HNGN, the black nettle, also called black jellies, have tendrils that can reach lengths of more than 25 feet. Their sting can be quite painful, but is rarely fatal. Black nettles are also incredibly rare.
Photographs of the rare jellyfish date back to around 1920. However, as they are very rare, the black nettles were not identified until 1999.
As reported by CBS, until recently they were never seen in Southern California. Nigela Hillgarth of Birch Aquarium explains that the jellyfish may have been drawn to the area in search of food.
The giant jellyfish feed primarily on plankton. Increased ocean temperatures, fertilizer runoff, and human activity, all contribute to an increase in plankton at the shoreline.
As the plankton population increases at the shore, the rare jellyfish may become more prominent.
As explained by MontereyBayAquarium.com, black nettles were first discovered along the California coast in 1989 near San Diego. They then disappeared, mysteriously returning in 1999.
The black nettle has an interesting relationship with the Pacific butterfish, which they protect and feed. As the butterfish hide under the jellyfish, they are concealed from predators and feed on plankton caught by the jellyfish.
Black nettles are usually found in Mexico and Baja California. However, more recently they have been spotted along the Southern California coast.
Little more is known about the elusive and rare jellyfish. Authorities remind swimmers that they do have a painful sting, but the chance of serious complications is rare.
[Image via Flickr]