TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) — Thousands of jellyfish recently washed up on the north end shores of Tybee Island.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this species of jellyfish, known as cannonballs, frequently lives along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina but goes unnoticed until they get stranded on the shoreline.
Eddie Leonard, a marine biologist at the department, says there’s no need to be alarmed about the pile-up on the coast.
Cannonball jellyfish can’t propel themselves using tentacles, so they’re at the mercy of the wind and current.
“When we have winds blowing up from the east for several days in a row, it pushes large volumes of water and jellyfish up towards the shoreline,” Leonard said. “When that coincides with a change in tide, the tides can push the waterway up on the beach. When the water retreats, it strands them on the beach.”
He says since only one type of species was stranded on shore, it’s most likely not the cause of environmental contamination.
Leonard explained although the cannonballs won’t sting you, there may be other kinds of jellyfish among them that may be harmful, so it’s best to not touch them, even if you think they’re no longer living.
“If you can, keep your distance,” he said. “Especially if you’re barefoot on the beach, just be aware that stinging jellies do have very long tentacles, and you can be two or three feet away from the jelly and step on the tentacles if they’re stretched out on the beach. You usually see them but sometimes you can’t.”
If you do get stung by a jellyfish, Leonard says to apply a loose covering to the area, keep the sting out of the sun, and make a stop by your local pharmacy.
“There are some products that are a detergent that are mixed with a mild abrasive that is intended to scrub the stinging cells off of the skin,” Leonard said.
“Certainly, the main thing to look out for are signs of anaphylactic shock.”