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July 12, 2013

Manchester issues jellyfish warning

MANCHESTER — With the shoreline dwindling at high tide, Singing Beach patrons now have another thing to keep an eye out for — jellyfish.

A lion’s mane jellyfish, which can sting even after washing ashore, experts say, was found Wednesday on Singing Beach, and the town issued a warning that more could be in the water or on the sands of its beaches.

Employees with the town Department of Parks and Recreation first spotted the jelly, according to Harbormaster Bion Pike.

Pike and Parks and Recreation Director Matt Casparius believed the species to a be lion’s mane jellyfish.

”I’ve seen them before, they’re not unheard of,” Pike said.

This specimen was found dead on Singing Beach around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and measured about 12 inches in diameter, said Casparius. The invertebrate was then shoveled into a bag.

Since the sighting, the town is alerting people to be on the look for more jellies, as they can still sting even when on shore.

”We just want to get the word out, just in case,” Casparius said.

Gloucester officials said Thursday there have been no jellyfish sightings on or off city beaches.

Anyone who spots a jellyfish at Singing Beach should contact a lifeguard. If one is spotted at any of Manchester’s beaches, finders should call the harbormaster’s office at 978-526-7832.

The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole points out the species is common in the area throughout the winter, spring and summer. Two varieties can be found locally, which could represent different subspecies or a different species altogether.

While this particular jellyfish only had a bell diameter of about 1 foot, they can grow to more than six in diameter with tentacles measuring nearly 50 feet long, according to National Geographic.

In the summer of 2010, various news agencies reported a dead lion’s mane jellyfish stung about 150 people after it broke into different pieces at the Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye, N.H.

Pike said currents and direction can have an influence on where jellyfish appear.

“There are a lot of different reasons,” he said.

Portuguese men-of-war — essentially a cousin of the jellyfish — have been recently reported in Wareham, Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, and Westport.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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