Sea lice, the larvae of stinging jellyfish, have been found near Ocean City, Avalon and Stone Harbor, likely pushed to New Jersey from Florida by Tropical Storm Isaias, according to the Sierra Club of New Jersey.
Stinging jellyfish have been known to show up in New Jersey near the end of summer when the water is warmer. Sea lice can cause burning sensations and rashes, including a skin reaction known as seabather’s eruption. Severe cases can require medical treatment.
The Press of Atlantic City has reached out to the Ocean City Beach Patrol for comment.
“Here we are in the middle of summer and people can’t enjoy our beaches because of sea lice in the water. Sea lice are jellyfish larvae that can cause skin irritation and uncomfortable rashes,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “They have already been found near Ocean City, Avalon and Stone Harbor, which means that they could spread north because of warm water and nutrients.
“This shows that we need to do more to both tackle stormwater runoff and leaky sewer pipes as well as climate change,” Tittel added. “This is a direct result of problems from both climate change and stormwater runoff. The nutrients in the water came from Tropical Storm Isaias last week. As the summer continues to be hot and rainy, the invasion of sea lice could spread up and down our coast.”
He said South Jersey sightings show that problems with warming waters and nutrient runoff are increasing, and he says they are a direct result of the “state’s failure to deal with fertilizer runoff, leaky sewer pipes, and septics.”
“Climate impacts will create even better conditions for sea lice as water temperatures rise and pollution worsens,” Tittel said. “We must work to retrofit storm basins and restore watersheds, wetlands and stress, and preserve environmentally sensitive areas. Otherwise, we will continue to see more problems along the shore like sea lice.”