Watch where you step on Sarasota beaches!

Scientists suspect that recent hurricanes have contributed to a jellyfish boom in the Gulf of Mexico.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- High tide in Sarasota is rolling in thousands of jellyfish, says Mote scientist Andrew Angelo.

“We’re seeing hundreds, if not thousands right now,” says Angelo.

The area is seeing a particular species called the Atlantic Sea Nettles.

Maryanna Doria goes to Lido Beach regularly and says she’s watching where she walks.

“Mostly small ones,” she said. “You can walk around them.”

But don’t let their small size fool you. Angelo says the nettle jellyfish carries a big sting.

“The long stringy things along the bell, those are tentacles. They stretch up to 12 feet in length,” said Angelo. “Each have thousands of stinging cells called NanoCytes. Think of a sock inside out with a harpoon in it.”

These Atlantic Sea Nettle fish are found in our Gulf waters, but not in the thousands. Scientist don’t know why, but they suspect storms like Hurricane Irma may have something to do with it.

“Right after the storm, we had very low salinity which is the saltiness of the water, which generally, this species of jellyfish prefer,” said Angelo. “A combination of extra nutrients in the water, salinity and stronger storm surges is pushing jellies closer to shore.”

Jellyfish can be just as hazardous on shore as in the water.

“Those dead jellies might be on shore still has the potential to sting folks,” said Angelo.

Doria will watch where she swims and walks.

“I keep my eyes out and look know where I’m stepping,” said said.

Jellyfish do have a purpose. They are a sea turtle’s favorite food and several fish species like them, too. If you like jellyfish, Mote says it’s a great time to go kayaking and see these majestic creatures.

But if you are not so fond of them, check out Mote’s beach conditions site to see which beaches are jellyfish free.

If you are stung, Angelo recommended using mustard, ketchup, salad dressing or any citrus such as orange, lime, lemon even pineapple to ease the sting.

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