Untamed Lowcountry

At 5,000+ stings, it’s been a ‘calm’ jellyfish summer on Hilton Head

Jellyfish wash up on the beach near the beach where the mouth of the Hunting Island lagoon meets the Fripp Inlet.
Jellyfish wash up on the beach near the beach where the mouth of the Hunting Island lagoon meets the Fripp Inlet. The Beaufort Gazette

An uptick of jellyfish near Myrtle Beach might be keeping people out of the water, but farther south, on Hilton Head, it’s been a “calm” season.

“I mean, we have them, but not more than normal,” Shore Beach Service Operations Manager Mike Wagner said Monday afternoon. “It’s July and August, there’s going to be jellyfish — we’re used to having thousands of them in July and August.”

Wagner said his staff has treated 5,357 jellyfish stings between June 1 and August 1. That number may sound high, he said, but beachgoers should remember that his staff patrols a 13.5-mile stretch of beach, and that the number of treated stings has been much, much higher in the past.

Last year, Wagner said, his staff treated just over 4,700 stings during the same 60-day period.

But Shore Beach Service treated more than 14,000 stings in both 2013 and 2014. And the service treated 16,757 stings in 2011.

“I would say, if anything, it’s been a relatively calm summer, jellyfish-wise,” Wagner said.

He advised swimmers to pay attention to his lifeguards — if they’re seeing an uptick in stings in a certain area, his staffers will put out a caution flag.

Things haven’t been as calm farther north.

For the second day in a row, forecasters are advising beachgoers to stay out of the surf in the Myrtle Beach area because of jellyfish.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., has issued a beach hazards statement through 8 p.m. Monday for Horry County. A similar advisory was issued on Sunday.

The Weather Service says beach patrols in the Myrtle Beach area report an unusually large number of jellyfish.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says jellyfish seem to be coming up from points south because of the warm ocean temperatures

The department said on its Facebook page that jellyfish have been active along some parts of the coast in recent days, and that people should exercise caution when swimming and be prepared with first aid.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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