If you are headed to the Jersey Shore this weekend, beware of another danger lurking in the waters just off our coast.

The rare mauve stinger jellyfish has shown up in large numbers, and they pack a painful sting.

Unlike other jellyfish, this species has stinger cells all over its body, not just on the tentacles. That means if you brush up against one in the water, it's going to hurt.

People started posting photos of the purple tinged jellies on the New Jersey Jellyspotters Facebook page this week. Many were not sure quite what it was at first, then the experts started chiming in, quickly identifying the species.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
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A description on WildlifeTrusts.org describes the mauve stinger as "a small jellyfish, but it certainly packs a powerful punch, with long tentacles and warty structures on its ‘bell’ full of stinging cells."

Some have likened getting stung to a jolt from a 9 volt battery.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
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As for why they are here, and so close to shore, is not known. Experts say they are typically found in the open ocean, but upwelling and an onshore wind can bring them into the shallow water near the beach.

If you see one, don't touch it. Even if they are dead on the beach, they can still sting you.

Their venom is not considered especially toxic, but it can irritate the skin.

Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
Facebook/New Jersey Jellyspotters
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If you get stung, some recommend washing the effected area in white vinegar.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Carefully pluck visible tentacles with a fine tweezers.
  • Soak the skin in hot water. Use water that's 110 to 113 F (43 to 45 C). It should feel hot, not scalding. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower until the pain eases, which might be 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Apply 0.5% to 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment twice a day to the affected skin.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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