Warmer ocean temperatures could mean more jellyfish

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-16 23:59:01-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Warmer water could mean more jellyfish, causing concern for scientists and beach-goers in San Diego.

New information from a NASA satellite shows the water near San Diego beaches in a dark red shade, indicating much warmer water temperatures than normal.

On the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration website they show a recent 5 degree spike in the San Diego Bay from July 14, 2008 to July 14, 2018. 

Executive Director Clarissa Anderson of the Southern California Ocean Observing System says this trend is concerning, "We used to be very connected to the temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, as you see a change in variability there, we see a similar connection and we're actually starting to depart from that... that seems to indicate that we are on some interesting new trajectory for temperature warming in the ocean."

This means changes in the underwater ecosystem, "we could see a real explosion in populations, and it might not be persistent all year round, but as the temperatures are high, because it's summer, and higher than normal, we could definitely see a lot more jellyfish and also see them closer to shore," Anderson said.

In Coronado, some beach-goers are already noticing jellyfish stings, "yesterday there were chairs lined up and there were buckets of water that people were soaking their jellyfish wounds in," Lauren Falatyn said, pointing to the sand behind the lifeguard tower.

Lifeguard Sergeant Evan Lowe said there may be another reason for the spike in stings, "the increase in beach population probably more people in the water which causes more people to be stung."

Anderson said scientists will be closely monitoring the trend to see the long term impacts.