Program Scientist, Barnegat Bay Partnership
Jim Vasslides brought the mayors up to date on efforts by Barnegat Bay Partnership to address the problem of stinging jellyfish, more properly known as sea nettles. He walked the mayors through the lifecycle of the creatures, which have lived in Barnegat Bay for decades but have recently come to pose both environmental and economic problems. It is possible that the abundance of sea nettles is reducing other populations of bay life, he explained. Meanwhile there is no doubt that they discourage human swimmers during the summer tourist season. According to Vasslides, factors such as warmer water temperatures and increased salinity favor sea nettles. In their early life stages, sea nettle larvae attach themselves to hard underwater surfaces, and since they prefer to hang vertically, those surfaces could include floating docks, he said. Barnegat Bay Partnership is working with studies conducted in the Chesapeake Bay and is conducting local research to come up with more definitive conclusions for Barnegat Bay, and hopefully programs to reduce the burgeoning jellyfish infestation.