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Thousands of cannonball jellyfish wash ashore after swarming North Carolina’s Outer Banks




Thousands of globular cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus meleagris) have washed ashore along a stretch of North Carolina coastline in what is being dubbed a "jellyfish jamboree."

Park rangers from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, part of the National Park Service (NPS), snapped photos of the spectacle on Friday (Oct. 14) and shared it in a Facebook post.

The "large swarm" washed up along the northern edge of Ocracoke Island, one in a chain of islands that makes up the Outer Banks. The sudden iNFLux of these squishy, stinger-less blobs coincides with the presence of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), a species of saltwater fish that's currently in the midst of spawning season — the fish’s larvae also happen to be the preferred snack for the jellyfish, according to the post.

Similar to actual cannonballs in both shape and size — the jellies weigh about 1 pound (450 grams) on average and measure 10 inches (24 centimeters) in diameter — the species is one of the most common types of jellyfish along the southeastern coast, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

So why did they wash up now?

"Jellyfish rely on winds and currents to help them swim. Colder water temperatures, winds and currents can all play a role in them washing ashore," the post read.

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