SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — They’re not what you’d expect when you think of jellyfish.
The typical New Englander might be more familiar with the larger Portuguese man-of-war, which usually features vibrant colors and can measure several inches wide.
But with their small, transparent bodies, clinging jellyfish can be hard to spot – and they carry a serious sting.
The Rhode Island Department of Health issued a warning after five people were stung by clinging jellyfish last week at Potter Pond.
Clinging jellyfish are harder to spot and guard against. They tend to collect on vegetation underwater in back bays and coastal ponds – where people aren’t likely to swim but are likely to wade.
This is the third year in a row the clinging jellyfish have shown up, according to the health department. Since Potter Pond has a lot of marshes, those conditions contribute to their breeding and preferred habitat.
The adult clinging jellyfish is clear, with an orange-brown cross on their bodies and have sticky pads on their tentacles.
Reactions to clinging jellyfish stings vary. While some people may feel no discomfort, others may feel severe pain and redness where they’ve been stung. In more severe cases, a person can experience trouble breaking or thinking/concentrating.
More: Clinging jellyfish FAQ
Anyone who reacts to a clinging jellyfish sting may experience symptoms for at least three to five days.
White vinegar should be applied to the sting site if it is painful and tentacles should be carefully removed with tweezers (while wearing rubber gloves to prevent additional stings). Health officials suggest taking a hot bath or shower afterward for 20 to 45 minutes.