The return of large “cannonball” jellyfish along Myrtle Beach shores is also attracting giant turtles.
Large jellyfish called “cannonball” jellyfish have returned to Grand Strand beaches, according to several news reports. Strong winds have begun to push the larger types of jellyfish closer to shore.
Cannonball jellyfish, also known as “cabbage head jellyfish” or “jelly balls,” can reach up to 10 inches in diameter and do not commonly sting humans.
Cannonball jellies are the most common in the Myrtle Beach area, according to Myrtle Beach Online. While those jellyfish are considered the least venomous of their species, they do contain toxins that can be dangerous to humans and animals.
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The white or brown jellyfish can blend into the sand and are sometimes difficult to see. In the water, stings are more likely to result from stepping on one, as they don’t have tentacles, according to Myrtle Beach Online.
One of the cannonball jellyfish’s main predators is the endangered leatherback sea turtle. Leatherbacks regularly migrate north from the Caribbean from April to early summer to follow and feed on the cannonball jellies, since the jellyfish are among the turtles’ primary food sources, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Water temperatures are rising, which means the jellyfish are going to show up more and more often, bringing the huge turtles in their wake.
WMBF News reported that the turtles can grow to “the size of a Volkswagen Jetta,” and Ann Wilson, interpretive ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park, told WMBF News that the turtles can weigh 500 to 1,000 pounds.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett