Jel­ly­fish swarm West­shore beach

Hawke's Bay Today - - Local News - Ge­or­gia May

As spring blooms, so do jel­ly­fish and a fair few are blos­som­ing on to the shores of West­shore Beach in Napier.

Ac­cord­ing to Niwa marine bi­ol­ogy tech­ni­cian Diana MacPher­son it’s com­mon to see blooms of jel­ly­fish as the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture gets warmer, be­cause it means there’s no short­age of food for them.

A large num­ber of jel­ly­fish swarmed in for Guy Fawkes ear­lier this week.

They were prob­a­bly more in­ter­ested in feast­ing on the an­i­mal plank­ton feed­ing in shal­low wa­ters than watch­ing fire­works, MacPher­son said.

“Some jel­ly­fish at or near the sea sur­face are at the mercy of strong wind and cur­rents that can gather them into a dense group and di­rect them to beaches, bays or har­bours where they be­come stranded, so it is nor­mal for them to wash up.”

Macpher­son said the large fly­ingsaucer shaped crea­tures pho­tographed at West­shore were lion’s mane jel­ly­fish, or Cyanea rosea.

“It’s the largest jel­ly­fish species found all around New Zea­land. Their bells are usu­ally less than 50cm in di­am­e­ter but can get up to 2m in di­am­e­ter, she said.

She had a warn­ing for beach­go­ers want­ing to touch them.

“This one does sting through their ten­ta­cles, even af­ter be­ing stranded on shore. For some peo­ple stings may re­sult in an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion.

“If stung, vig­or­ously flush the stung area with lots of sea­wa­ter (NOT fresh wa­ter) to rinse away the ten­ta­cles and sting­ing cells

“Pluck off any cling­ing ten­ta­cles with tweez­ers. Scrap­ing them off or rub­bing with sand trig­gers any ac­tive sting­ing cells to re­lease more venom, so take care when re­mov­ing ten­ta­cles and ap­ply heat.”

Al­though not pop­u­lar with swim­mers, MacPher­son said jel­ly­fish played an im­por­tant role in marine food webs — as preda­tors, or prey or as de­com­pos­ing scraps of food for sus­pen­sion feed­ers in the wa­ter or on the seafloor.

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED

A lion’s mane jel­ly­fish washed up on West­shore beach ear­lier this week.

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