The warm ocean water along the coastline of Myrtle Beach is attracting more than just tourists this week — a swarm of jellyfish bobbing in the surf prompted beach hazard warnings on Sunday and Monday from the National Weather Service.
Lifeguards along the Grand Strand were flying the blue warning flags to alert swimmers to active sea life in the area. Although thousands of tourists were still on the beaches soaking up the sun, many risked a swim in the warm waves.
Martina Jedlicka, spokeswoman for Lack’s Beach Lifeguards, said reports of jelly stings are “so many we don’t count.”
“It’s been all day long,” Jedlicka said Monday. “We spray people in the morning until afternoon, but it’s really common for this time in August, that people get stung.”
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Lifeguards are treating the stings with sand and spray bottles of vinegar, while urging those allergic to bee stings to get checked out by a doctor.
Lifeguard Peter Kouric was stationed on the South Strand on Sunday where he said he treated 30 stings, but near the Springmaid Pier Monday he only had treated a handful.
The NWS issued the warnings Sunday and again Monday through 8 p.m. stating that swimmers should take precautionary actions. Federal officials issue the warnings after reviewing daily reports on local conditions.
“The lifeguards at Myrtle Beach are reporting numerous jellyfish near shore and are advising beach goers to stay out of the water,” said the warning issued Monday.
The warm ocean surf has created favorable conditions for the sea creatures, prompting the federal agency to initially issue a warning Sunday for beachgoers to stay out of the surf.
We’re seen a hundred jellyfish from up here today, along with one shark that was about four feet.
Meteorologist Dave Loewenthal said it’s likely the jellies have drifted in with a southeast swell.
Brett Pate was unaware of the danger or warnings on Sunday, and was stung twice by a jellyfish as he played football in the waves.
“It felt like a powerful bee sting,” said the teenager from Greenville, S.C.
His father, Mike Pate, said other swimmers warned them about the jellies, so now they’re keeping a safe distance from the surf.
“You don’t have to tell me twice. I got in the swimming pool instead,” he said.
Donovan Faith, a 13-year-old from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was stung several times as he was fishing in the surf Saturday.
“I got nailed,” Faith said. “After I got stung three or four times, I just gave it up.”
Faith said he took care of the stings with sand, while Pate said he used several remedies, including sand and vinegar.
Rick Gramling, Faith’s grandfather, said they decided to fish from the pier instead on Monday.
“We’re seen a hundred jellyfish from up here today, along with one shark that was about four feet,” Gramling said.
Local resident Deborah Kulish says the jellyfish problem has persisted for days and that warnings should have been issued before Sunday.
“This is the second week in a row jellyfish have invaded the south end of our beaches in Litchfield and Pawleys Island,” Kulish said.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources reported Saturday on its Facebook page that one of its officials was stung by a jellyfish in Myrtle Beach.
“The extreme heat has brought the jellies up from Florida and they're prowling the waters on the coast,” said the Natural Resources Department post.
The department offered a link to tips on how to treat jellyfish stings.
Beach hazard statements are issued to alert swimmers to certain threats such as rip current, longshore currents, the presence of marine animals or life-threatening conditions in the surf zone.