TRENTON NJ (August 10, 2020)--The larvae of stinging jellyfish, also known as sea lice, were found near Ocean City. They have primarily been reported near Avalon and Stone Harbor Beaches. Stinging jellyfish have been known to show up in New Jersey near the end of summer when the water is warmer. The stinging jellyfish larvae were likely pushed to New Jersey from Florida by Tropical Storm Isaias.
“Here we are in the middle of summer and people can’t enjoy our beaches because of sea lice in the water. Sea lice are jellyfish larvae that can cause skin irritation and uncomfortable rashes. They have already been found near Ocean City, Avalon and Stone Harbor, which means that they could spread north because of warm water and nutrients. This shows that we need to do more to both tackle stormwater runoff and leaky sewer pipes as well as climate change,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a direct result of problems from both climate change and stormwater runoff. 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.”
Sea lice are a larvae of jellyfish, typically thimble jellyfish. They can cause burning sensations and rashes, including a skin reaction known as seabather’s eruption. Severe cases can require medical treatment.
“The South Jersey sightings show us that our problems with warming waters and nutrient runoff is increasing. We need to act and act now to fix the state’s problems with stormwater runoff and nutrient pollution. Stormwater pollution from Combined Sewer Overflow, septic runoff and leaky sewer pipes are bringing nutrients into our waters and making pollution worse. Governor Murphy has not yet fixed Christie’s failed policies that are increasing water pollution. Jellyfish are a warning signal that there are problems with both warm water and water quality and that things are going to get worse,” said Jeff Tittel. “This is a direct result of the state’s failure to deal with fertilizer runoff, leaky sewer pipes, and septics.”
Christie-era rules weakened coastal protections and encouraged overdevelopment around the bay. Gov. Murphy has left those rules in place, worsening the bay’s problems. The result has been increased stormwater runoff pouring into the water.
“Climate impacts will create even better conditions for sea lice as water temperatures rise and pollution worsens. The Murphy administration is not addressing those impacts. They are not dealing with stormwater pollution and overdevelopment. CAFRA rules continue to allow for high levels of impervious cover. Christie weakened Stormwater Management and Flood Hazard rules, delayed Water Quality Planning rules and allowed sewers into environmentally sensitive areas,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “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.”