Jellyfish influx in Far North

NZ VISITOR: Purple parasol jellyfish are found worldwide. The scientific name, Pelagia noctiluca, says it all: Their ...
Mike Page

NZ VISITOR: Purple parasol jellyfish are found worldwide. The scientific name, Pelagia noctiluca, says it all: Their ‘‘pelagic’’ life cycle means they live in the open ocean, where they prey on zooplankton attracted by their night-light bioluminescence.

Large pink and red jellyfish are plaguing Far North beaches.

Regular swimmer Lisa Wylie of Kaitaia said she's lost count of how many jellyfish she's spotted at Ahipara.

She swapped beaches for Taipa - but found them there too.

Wylie said she's been warning parents on the beach.

"I just don't want little kids to get stung because it's going to hurt.

"There are hundreds. I don't know where the jellyfish are coming from or why but people need to know about them because kids are running around and you can easily stand on them without knowing."

Wylie, 43, said the jellyfish are larger than her outstretched hand.

"They're mainly in the water but some of them do get washed up."

Northland Regional Council consents and monitoring manager Colin Dall said the council has not received any reports of jellyfish via its environmental hotline.

"Jellyfish are common visitors to New Zealand beaches in summer, including the moon jellyfish and the purple parasol jellyfish," he said.

Ad Feedback

"Some jellyfish sting, some don't. Purple parasol jellyfish sting slightly, moon jellyfish don't."

Dall said it is likely to be purple parasol jellyfish on the Far North beaches.

They have only a few prey-catching tentacles trailing from its bell and five feeding tentacles surrounding its mouth. They can grow up to 40cm across.

Principal marine biologist Dennis Gordon says it would be unusual for the purple parasol jellyfish to strand itself but not improbable.

He says a "bloom" or increase of them could be a reaction in the food chain and other conditions such as warmer water.

"A bloom is normally in summer just as a consequence of tides, currents, wind and biology of the organisms themselves."

Wylie hasn't been stung but said others compare it to a bee sting - "but worse."

Dall said people should be careful swimming when they know jellyfish are in the area.

"Treat any jellyfish with caution and if there are a lot washed up on beaches, then there are likely to be a lot in the adjacent waters."

 - Northern News

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback