OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — A pest is making swimmers uncomfortable at the Jersey Shore. Some beachgoers are complaining of skin irritations after swimming in the ocean.
Biologists say the sea lice aren’t lice at all, but very small jellyfish swimming to South Jersey from hundreds of miles away down South. They tend to live in very warm waters down in Florida.
What’s sometimes called sea lice are actually thimble jellyfish, and if they sting you, they can leave behind a rash that can be itchy and may feel like a bunch of mosquito bites.
This image from the Florida Health Department shows a bad case of sea lice, which are often found under bathing suits.
“Because it’s been such a warm, hot summer they’ve come north and they’re basically spawning and that’s what you’re basically getting bit by,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittell.
Despite the concern of sea lice and the pandemic, many families down the shore are just wanting to enjoy the last remaining days of summer.
But beachgoers in Ocean City are also dealing with a dredging project. It’s an effort to replenish the beach here.
But it means part of the beach is closed and people vacationing in Ocean City have less room for fun in the sun.
“We’re supposed to be practicing social distancing and they have two beaches closed between 8th and 9th and that’s upsetting. Where else is there to go besides the beach?” beachgoer Suzanne Scivetti said.
There have been reports of swimmers getting sea lice in Avalon, Stone Harbor and other South Jersey beach towns.