Around 40 small but mighty jellyfish have been spotted around the Barnegat Bay this year, and beach goers are reminded that while they may look cute they are not to be touched.

The "clinging jellyfish" species is not native to the area but have been seen around the bay, particularly in the north-central region, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. They were found at Jonny Allens Cove and in eelgrass beds on the north side of Tices Shoal.

The ones spotted in the bay has ranged from the size of a dime to the size of a quarter. It can be spotted by its red, orange or violet cross going across the middle, the DEP alert said.

An alert from the DEP notes that the species "is not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas but tends to attach itself to submerged sea grass and algae in back bays and estuaries, areas not heavily used for swimming." The clinging jellyfish was first spotted in New Jersey in the Manasquan River at the Point Pleasant Canal in 2016.

A sting from one of the jellyfish can cause "severe pain, muscle cramping and other localized symptoms." The stings can occasionally be so severe that people require hospitalization.

The stings can be treated by applying white vinegar to the area in order to immobilize the stinging cells. The affected area should be rinsed with salt water using a glove or thick towel to remove any tentacles, and a hot compress can be used to help with any pain from the sting.

The public is advised to not try and capture the stinging jellyfish. The state, however, does ask the public to take pictures, if possible, as part of a survey being conducted by the DEP in partnership with Montclair State University. The pictures can be sent to Dr. Paul Bologna at bolognap@montclair.edu or Joseph Bilinski at joseph.bilinski@dep.nj.gov.

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