You never know what you may see when you venture out on to the beaches on Hilton Head. Just the other day at the Driessen Beach access and south beyond the Marriot Surf Watch the shores were lined with 100s of dead jellyfish. This is an odd sight but not an unusual occurrence. The previous spring this happened too, although this is not a seasonal event.
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This specific jellyfish is a cannonball jellyfish which is common in this area. The good news is these jellyfish do not sting so no worries about bumping into one in the water. The cannonball jelly does not have the long tentacles instead they have short “oral arms” which give them the appearance of a ball hence the name cannonball. Actually some people find them fun to investigate and will pick them up for a photo op. The Hilton Head area will see stinging jellyfish so it is best to not mess with them unless you are sure you know what you are touching.
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So they don’t sting but who wants to swim among 100s of dead jellyfish? Well the following day there were few signs of the mass casualty of the jellyfish. There were maybe one or two left along a mile stretch of the beach. The high tide washed them back to sea never to be seen again, perhaps we may see some of their cousins at some point.
What caused the death of 100’s of jellyfish? This is not a sign of the end of times rather it is what happens. As many ocean going creatures jellyfish travel in schools or the technically correct term blooms. If you are out on the waterways around Hilton Head you may see one or two float by or you can see dozens. These jellyfish swim along with the current and they can be easily swept into shore by strong currents and surf where they meet their demise. Another cause is cold water temps limit their ability to swim so they eventually find their way to the beach.
If I did not take a beach walk the other day I would have never realized such a loss of life had occurred. That is one thing about being by the water, especially the beach, it is ever changing and you never know what you may see. Take the time to get to the beach when you can, you will be happy you did.