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Jellyfish swarm takes over Florida beaches, stinging hundreds

Every little sting she does is magic. (Tomas Bravo/Reuters)

They don’t get the same attention as shark attacks (or even great white sightings), but jellyfish ruin far more weekends, descending on beaches like water-bound locusts.

The latest example came in the waters along Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. This past weekend, more than 400 swimmers were stung by jellyfish at the Florida beaches, according to Reuters. The swarm of serial stingers prompted lifeguards to raise purple flags warning of hazardous marine life.

“It could be thousands. It’s hard to see them in the water right now. All you can see are the ones on shore,” Volusia County Beach Safety Captain Tammy Marris told Reuters.

Surfer Jerry Phillips told Orlando’s WESH-TV that he was standing in the ocean with his daughter when he was stung.

“I think the tentacles wrapped all the way around my leg and really stung me,” he told the station. “I did scream a little bit.”

“They were all over and all in multiple sizes,” beachgoer Michelle Craycraft told WFTV.

Winnie Kuna told WFTV that her daughter was stung when she walked into a swarm. “She got stung, and like, 12 welts popped up across her leg,” Kuna said. “We were all out of there real quick.”

There are a number of home remedies to treat the stings, including vinegar and salt water. Lifeguards, Reuters reported, stock vinegar to provide instant relief.

Even though jellyfish will never permeate pop culture — a “jellynado” just sounds like a delicious donut creation — you can’t underestimate the impact these floating, bag-like animals can have on beach season.

And it’s normal: Marris said there was nothing unusual about the size of the swarm or the number of people stung over the weekend. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel reported, just two weeks ago, jellyfish stung more than 400 people at the same beaches that came under attack over the weekend. About 200,000 people are stung annually in Florida, according to the National Science Foundation.

The swarms may not be going away anytime soon, WFTV reported:

Beach safety officials said with some big surf moving in from Tropical Storm Cristobal into Monday, it may create conditions that will send more jellyfish to the shore.

Thomas Johnson is a reporter.

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