Salty Pamlico provides home for sea creatures

Education, Environmental

Posted on August 9th, 2017

Sea nettle photographed in Chocowinity Bay on July 31, 2017

Local reports of jellyfish flooded in after the weekend of July 29th for many locations along the Pamlico River. The reports indicated that both sea nettles and ctenophores (comb jellies) were found in the mainstem of the Pamlico upstream to Washington Park as well as the mouths of many tributaries. The reports also included South Creek and the Pungo River.

Prior to this week’s rain, the Pamlico River was very brackish and salinity levels were hovering around 10 parts per thousand (sea water is 35) for the area between Blounts Bay and Washington Park. Salinity levels were even higher closer to the Sound. The environment was salty enough for local residents to not only see jellyfish, but also skates and a few isolated sightings of bull sharks. It is important to remember that while bull sharks are fairly common in the Pamlico Sound and River, there have been no reports of attacks in Beaufort County since records began in 1935!

Sea nettles typically appear white to yellowish, but they can also have a crimson color to them as noted in this provided photo.  For most people, contact with a sea nettle results in painful rash that lasts for about 20 minutes. Some may exhibit a greater reaction to contact with the nettle.

Ctenophores, or comb jellies, do not sting. They have been found in abundance in our coastal waters this spring in summer.

The Pamlico River is an amazing environment! A place were you can see skates, jellyfish and freshwater catfish in the same area. So enjoy the experience and if you capture a photo, send it our way!


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