JUNEAU, Alaska – The number of moon jellyfish floating in Alaskan waters has increased and residents must be prepared, the scientists said.
Hot ocean temperatures and plentiful zooplankton food contributed to the increase in sightings, the Juneau Empire reported on Friday.
Moon jellyfish, also known as Aurelia aurita, released sperm and eggs freely into the water during the spring season, said Sherry Tamone, a professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska in the southeast. The jellyfish fertilized independently of the original mother water and has now reached maturity.
Scientists have asked residents to leave the jellyfish alone or risk being bitten.
"If you see them on the beach, leave them," Tamone said. "Don't try to catch them, or you may irritate your hand."
Although the bite is less painful than other jellyfish, the moon bite would still irritate humans, experts said.
For the best views, experts recommended watching jellyfish from a pier.
There are concerns that many jellyfish in the water may throw out of the ecosystem because they would overeat zooplankton, Tamone said. However, this is not the case here.
Jellyfish and sea nettles are also common in northern waters, the scientists said.