Jellyfish larvae commonly known as “sea lice” are invading south New Jersey beaches, all thanks to Tropical Storm Isaias.
Environmental officials think that Isaias pushed larvae up from Florida, since stinging jellyfish don’t usually appear on New Jersey beaches until late summer, when the water gets warmer. The microscopic “sea lice” are known for causing skin rashes and irritation to swimmers in the Southern United States and the Caribbean.
“This is a direct result of problems from both climate change and stormwater runoff,” Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club said in a news release.
“The nutrients in the water came from Tropical Storm Isaias last week. As the summer continues to be hot and rainy, the invasion of sea lice could spread up and down our coast.”
The beaches of Avalon and Stone Harbor are the ones most impacted by the creatures.
According to the Florida Department of Public Health, “sea lice” have been infesting coastal waters for more than a century, with most of the outbreaks traced to larvae of the thimble jellyfish, Linuche unguiculata.
“The South Jersey sightings show us that our problems with warming waters and nutrient runoff is increasing,” Tittel said.
He also blames the state for not taking better care of the coast and putting better precautions in place to manage septic runoff and sewer pipes. He blames Gov. Phil Murphy and former Gov. Chris Christie for the continued issues.
“We must work to retrofit storm basins and restore watersheds, wetlands and stress, and preserve environmentally sensitive areas. Otherwise we will continue to see more problems along the Shore like sea lice,” Tittel concluded.