Rare jellyfish near a Southern California beach may have been the cause of numerous people becoming stung over the holiday weekend.
Over the Fourth of July, hundreds of people headed out to Thousand Steps in south Laguna Beach for some fun in the sun. But some of those who ventured their way into the ocean came up with an unpleasant surprise.
Black colored creatures could be seen all over the bodies of some swimmers as they exited the waters. Based on their color, it appears that the creatures may actually be a rare type of jellyfish known to science as Chrysaora achlyos. They are more commonly referred to as Black Jellyfish.
The jellyfish were active over the weekend, sometimes causing multiple stings to one individual. Nigela Hillgarth of Birch Aquarium told the Associated Press the species was only identified in 1999 and it has only recently appeared in Southern California.
The bell shape of black jellyfish is dark purple or nearly black. No other jellyfish that nears the seashore is colored with a dark pigmentation. The creatures can be massive and grow over 30 feet long but despite being rare, when they are spotted, they are usually seen in swarms. Hillgarth suggested that warm waters may have lured the creatures in closer. Once too near, they were likely picked up by a current and drawn to shore.
A black jellyfish sting injects toxins into its prey that is strong enough to kill it. In humans, the amount of toxins is not lethal but can cause extreme pain for about 40 minutes. While some people may be allergic to jellyfish, typically those who aren't can treat jellyfish stings at home. To treat a sting, the WebMD recommends applying vinegar to a sting and then going over the area with a razor or any other flat edge to remove the stinging cells.