Swimmers in Long Island Sound had didn't have to sweat out the invasion of the jellyfish this summer.

The stinging blobs barely showed up.

"I didn't see a single one, which is odd because the water is so warm," said Greg Ryley, who has worked at Waterford Beach for 10 years. "I've never seen a year without jellyfish."

The months of July and August usually mean a swarm of jellyfish on the shores. Not this year. Many experts aren't quite sure why but also are not alarmed.

"My answer is: I don't know," said Patricia Kremer, an associate research professor in the marine sciences department at the University of Connecticut.

As with any eco-system, ocean wildlife depends on a series of factors and environmental conditions that can affect how a particular species thrives, or in this case does not.

"A lot of time temperature or food makes a difference to marine animals," Kremer said.

The most common type of jellyfish found along the Connecticut coast is the lion's mane jelly that exists in two different forms, Kremer said. They are the medusa stage, which swimmers are painfully familiar with, and the larval form, when the jellyfish are basically polyps that attach themselves to rocks and shells.

"The population of the [lion's mane] jellyfish is dependent on how many have been produced by that bottom-dwelling form," Kremer said. "My guess is that very few were produced this year for some reason."

The dearth of jellyfish comes a year after a particularly active


Advertisement

season in 2006, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"Just because there's been one bad year doesn't mean it's a harbinger for more to come." said Catherine Ellis, curator of fish and invertebrates at the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration.

UConn's Kremer agreed. It's a phenomenon not worth panicking over just yet.

"I don't think anyone should get too excited," Kremer said. "We have next year to look forward to."