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Emergence of Clinging Jellyfish in New Jersey’s Coastal Waters

Monday, June 27th, 2016
Invasive Species reported in the Shrewsbury and Manasquan Rivers along with Barnegat Bay

by Corrine Henn, Program Coordinator

Clinging Jellyfish photo by Dann Blackwood, U.S. Geologoical Survey, Woods Hole

Clinging Jellyfish photo by Dann Blackwood, U.S. Geologoical Survey, Woods Hole

The presence of the clinging jellyfish off the New Jersey coast has been stirring up quite the commotion lately. Dr. Bologna, a biologist and ecologist at Montclair State University, confirmed the identity of the Gonionemus vertens. Distinguished from other species by the distinctive red, orange or violet X-like marking on their pad, Gonionemus vertens is often no larger than the size of a dime.


An invasive species from the Pacific Ocean, there have been reported sightings of the introduced jellyfish in Southern California, Massachusetts, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea for the greater part of the last 100 years.


This relatively small species was given the nickname due its ability to, quite literally, cling onto eelgrass and other shallow-water flora when at rest using the pads on their tentacles. Typically harmless, this unique trait keeps the jellyfish away from the sandy beaches of the New Jersey shore, preferring calmer, quieter back bays and rivers.


Sightings to date have been reported in the Shrewsbury and Manasquan Rivers along with Barnegat Bay, but the reach of their presence has yet to be determined. Biologists are working diligently to confirm the status of the jellyfish by trawling a number of New Jersey waters over the next 30 days. They also hope to gather vital information regarding their life cycle, including where the polyps are settling.


Although the arrival of the Gonionemus vertens should not be ignored, it’s important to keep in mind beachgoers are unlikely to encounter the species. However, if you or someone you know has been stung, there are a number of steps that can be taken for preventative care:

  • Wearing gloves, white vinegar may be used to remove any remaining tentacles.
  • Rinse the area with salt water.
  • Apply a hot compress to the area.
  • Contact your doctor, or seek immediate medical assistance if necessary.


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Corrine Henn is a Program Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.