This Week’s Mass Stings: Work of One Deranged Jellyfish, A Serial Stinger or Roving Gang of Jellyfish?

At Carlsbad Beach, San Diego this past Wednesday, between 50 and 100 innocent summer bathers, swimmers and snorkelers were suddenly stung by jellyfish.  Could one jellyfish be responsible for stinging up to 100 people?  With lots of stinger-equipped tentacles the largest jellyfish in the world, perhaps a Portuguese Man of War, may be capable of this heinous act.  However, lifeguards, scientists and police still aren’t sure if this week’s mass sting spree was the work of one lone crazed jellyfish, or several, and they’re still trying to put it all together.   They are looking for this “Jellyfish of Interest” in the case.

The jellyfish stings, likely from a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) seen lurking in the shallow water this past week, happened in an instant.   One minute, it was an idyllic spring afternoon.  The next, dozens of people were wildly screaming, staggering out of the water clutching, itching and waving their unprotected arms and legs.  “It looked like a Justin Bieber concert,” said one swimmer.

“It was chaos,” said another beachgoer who spoke to us on the condition of remaining anonymous.  “I’ve been on six tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nothing compared to this mayhem,” he sobbed, still visibly shaken.

“It is unlikely that one jellyfish could sting that many people,” said John Costello in the Marine Biology Department at nearby Scripps Institute.  “Though not a common occurrence, he says with such a large jellyfish, and so many trailing tentacles, not to mention those that break off in the water, the occurrence is feasible.

“It’s certainly not common, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibility, because they do have so many tentacles if they’re that large. If they’re broken up, they could be all over the place,” said Costello.


Veteran police detectives were stumped  “I started working Robbery/Homicides/Jellyfish Stings, 77th Street Division in South L.A.,”  said detective Sal Labarierra.  “That was during the rock cocaine/mass sunburn/jellyfish sting epidemic back in ’96.  The victims were primarily youths, and families.  Back then, there was no protection.  That’s the sad thing about this.  The whole, horrible incident could have been prevented.  One jellyfish or a gang…what’s the difference?   There’s protection now,“ he stressed.  “It’s as simple as clicking online at

Detective Labarierra shook his head, and gazed sadly out at the scene of this week’s tragedy.   All these people needed to do was go to and get some protection!


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