North Carolina beach goers have been seeing a lot more of a certain slimy creature lately. Jellyfish are invading the North Carolina coast, partly because of the unseasonably high water temperatures. The increased jellyfish population isn't just a problem here in North Carolina, it is happening worldwide. On days when the jellyfish sting count is up, lifeguards at Carolina Beach put up the purple flag, to warn people to swim at their own risk. Mike Potrez was swimming at Carolina Beach when he felt something in the water. "I was riding a wave in when a jellyfish stung me, and it felt really slimy, and then my hand started to sting," said Potrez. His parents' first reaction was to treat it with vinegar -- a method lifeguard Nick Wilson says is the best way to relieve the pain. "They'll administer wet sand to act as an abrasive, and then the four wheeler guards will come up and spray vinegar on it. The ammonia and the vinegar are acidic properties and they should neutralize the venom," said Wilson. The increase in jellyfish at beaches like Carolina Beach could be do to the higher water temperatures. The average water temperature around this time of year is about 81 degrees. UNCW Marine Biology professor Dr. Richard Satterlie says higher water temperatures are just one reason for the increased jellyfish population in our area. "The currents will bring them around, if there is intense wave activity and wind driven waves, that can bring them in too," said Satterlie. Scientists say the invasion of jellyfish could be a result of a decline in other types of marine life. Satterlie said, "That's one of the main problems is over fishing is causing a decrease in the number of predators, especially sea turtles and leatherbacks, are causing a decrease of predators for jellyfish, which is causing the jellyfish rebound. Jellyfish are great opportunists." Dr. Satterlie says jellyfish can have tentacles extending as long as 10 feet. . Since they are usually translucent, it's sometimes hard to see them in the water. Lifeguards use the purple flag to warn swimmers of dangerous marine life like jellyfish and sharks.
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