CHARLESTON When you step foot in the surf, you run the risk of the sting of sea nettles, sea wasps or other jellyfish.
In fact, alarms are going off that jellyfish swarms are taking over the world’s oceans – starving out food fish, injuring swimmers, overloading the nets and capsizing fishing boats. Swarms that sometimes cover hundreds of square miles recently have been reported in many of the world’s prime vacation and fishing destinations, according to the National Science Foundation.
The fear is that warmer waters, overfishing and pollution are depleting other species while giving jellyfish the habitat they need to thrive.
In the Lowcountry, swarms tend to show up in the midsummer heat, when bathers flock to the beach.
In 2010, hundreds of swimmers or waders were stung at Charleston County beaches, and sightings were reported of long-tentacled Portuguese man-of-wars. In the summer of 2008, thousands of sea nettle stings were reported along S.C. beaches.