Massive wash-up of jellyfish on Jacksonville's coastline

Jellyfish line Jacksonville area beaches

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Families were fascinated Monday by the sight of a massive wash-up of jellyfish on Jacksonville’s coastline.

Lifeguards say they first spotted the jellyfish Thursday at Jacksonville Beach.

“I was surprised. Growing up here, you didn’t see it all the time. You occasionally saw one or two but nothing like this,” Amber Pritchett said.

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Pritchett and her kids were at Jacksonville Beach for a school project when they stumbled upon the jellyfish.


They took photos as other families dodged the animals.

Lifeguards call them cannonball jellyfish. Families reported seeing them from Atlantic Beach down to St. Johns County.

“Usually they’ve been rolled around in the waves and most of their stinging cells have been knocked off, most of the tentacles are broken off, but we still advise everybody just leave them alone,” Capt. Rob Emahiser of Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue said.

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He said he’s not surprised by the number of Jellyfish, and added that winds push jellyfish ashore from time to time.

Action News Jax sent photos to FWC and learned Jellyfish can also be affected by changes in water temperature and salinity.

The FWC spokesperson said it’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for a wash-up because jellyfish deteriorate so quickly, making it hard to study their tissue for a cause.

Both FWC and ocean rescue officials are warning families not to touch the jellyfish.

If you are stung, Emahiser says to treat the area with vinegar. This won't take away the pain, but it will prevent any additional cells from stinging you.

​Full FWC statement:

We occasionally get reports of jellyfish washing up on beaches and regrettably, we are unable to determine a cause for these events because the tissue of these animals deteriorates at a high rate, hence, tissue cannot be processed for histological analysis.
It is probable that nearshore benthic aggregates are affected by environmental changes such salinity or temperature changes. Cold and windy weather along with strong wave action can affect these animals when they aggregate in shallow enough water.
Unfortunately, we can only speculate about the benthic die-offs. Jellyfish, like many other coastal invertebrates, do not get enough routine baseline studies for us to provide meaningful answers. I hope that in the future funding will be more readily available to study and better understand these events.
Please help us by reporting these and other fish fill events through the free FWC Reporter app available in the App Store and Google pPlay.