Watch your step!
Don’t be surprised if you feel some extra “squish” under your feet in several Cape May County beaches, after millions of clear, slimy creatures appeared in the surf and washed up on the sand.
“I don’t like them at all. They’re like little tiny jellyfish. They’re everywhere. I just can’t wait for them to be gone, ” Danielle Damico of Wildwood Crest said Thursday on one of the resort’s beaches.
Wildwood Crest lifeguard Tim O’Brien said taking a dip in the ocean was “like swimming through Jell-o.”
“In 31 years on the beach, I’ve never seen anything like this,” O’Brien said.
The Jell-o-like creatures he was talking about are called salps.
So why are so many here? Experts think changing wind patterns; ocean currents and a natural occurrence called upwelling may be to blame.
“Upwelling is when colder water comes from the bottom of the ocean and is pushed upward, bringing with it, lots of nutrients,” said Travis Davis, an educator at The Wetlands Institute in Middle Township, N.J.
As a result, the salps and other organisms possibly were pulled up and then eventually flowed to the coastline, he explained.
Experts can’t be sure if there’s a connection between the huge piles of mussels that washed up and caused a stench in recent weeks on Atlantic County beaches (and later Ocean City) and the salps.
The invaders don’t sting and are harmless to humans, Davis said.
However you really have to watch where you walk. Zach Farkas, who sells ice cream on Stone Harbor’s beaches, said that he is proof that salps can hurt.
“I actually slipped on them. It was that thick two days ago. It hasn’t been the most pleasant smell either,” he said.