Clinging jellyfish found in Narragansett pond

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are warning the public about the presence of clinging jellyfish in a Narragansett pond.

According to the health department, for the past two weeks people reported experiencing stinging sensations and painful welts after spending time in the water at Point Judith Pond. 

DEM marine biologists surveying the pond were able to confirm the presence of the jellyfish.

According to DEM, clinging jellyfish are about the size of a dime and are marked with an orange-brown cross on their transparent bodies. Their sting is known to be extremely painful and can sometimes result in hospitalization.

DEM officials said the jellyfish have sticky pads on their tentacles, allowing them to cling to sea grasses and seaweeds. They are not known to inhabit beaches or other sandy areas, but tend to attach themselves to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays, coastal ponds and areas not heavily used for swimming.

The DEM and the health department have received reports from the public that clinging jellyfish may be present in Potters Pond in South Kingstown and Narrow River in Narragansett. DEM marine biologists surveyed Potters Pond in early July, but did not observe the jellyfish at that time.

The DEM recommends anyone wading in Point Judith Pond, or any pond with aquatic vegetation, wear boots or waders to protect themselves from the jellyfish.

According to the DEM, clinging jellyfish are very difficult to spot in the water. The DEM encourages people to be cautious and use common sense where the jellyfish are suspected.

Symptoms from a clinging jellyfish sting range from no discomfort at all to severe pain, redness at sting site and respiratory and/or neurological problems. The DEM said symptoms typically last 3-5 days following the sting.

The health department advises that if you are stung by a clinging jellyfish to:

  • Put white vinegar on the sting site to stop any remaining stinging cells
  • Remove any remaining tentacles with fine tweezers (Be sure to wear gloves to prevent additional stings to your hands)
  • Soak the skin in hot water or take a hot shower for 20-45 minutes
  • If symptoms don’t go away or pain gets worse, seek medical attention

For more information on clinging jellyfish, visit the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution website.

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