Jellyfish launch seasonal invasion of South Florida beaches

Mike Volek embraced the ambitious task of getting rid of all the jellyfish who shared the beach with him and his family on Tuesday morning.

The 10-year-old gave up pretty quickly. "There are too many," he said. "They are nasty."

Lifeguards stationed on beaches from the Treasure Coast to the Keys have been waving purple flags since Saturday, a warning to beachgoers about the bubbly purplish creatures that can ruin a day in the sun with their toxic tentacles.

Riptides, warm waters and weather conditions have combined to form a minefield of them, marking the unofficial start of the jellyfish season, experts said on Tuesday.

Lifeguards in Deerfield Beach said they have treated an average of 300 to 400 stings per day since Saturday.

"It's been extremely bad," said Lt. Mike Brown, of Deerfield Beach Ocean Rescue. "We treated only a small amount of people [Monday], but mostly because there was nobody in the water."

Early Tuesday, people were spotted dodging the jellyfish along portions of the Fort Lauderdale beach. They appeared especially numerous near Vista Park, between Northeast 27th and 30th streets.

Cities throughout Broward reported mostly the "Moon Jellyfish" that resembles a purple mushroom. Its much-feared brethren, the Man-Of-War, is more toxic and usually makes its annual appearance in the winter months.

Moon Jellyfish have been reaching the shallow waters of Hollywood beach for about two weeks, said Chief Vinny Canosa of Hollywood Fire-Rescue/Beach Safety.

"We haven't seen this many in the last few years," he said. "I wouldn't say crazy numbers, but this year's season has definitely been big."