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Fewer jellyfish at beaches

THE jellyfish invasion along Southern California beaches this summer appears to be waning in time for the Labor Day weekend.

The big, gelatinous creatures have been a beachgoer’s scourge this year, although divers have been wowed at swimming among legions of the animals.

“They appear to have tapered off everywhere,” says John Moore, founder of Divebums.com, a diving resource for Southern California.

Lifeguards at Huntington Beach have treated 5,492 cases of jellyfish injuries this summer. They say they are now seeing fewer stings.

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“At the same time, we’ve had more people in the water too, so there’s a higher likelihood that there would have been contact,” says Huntington Beach marine safety Lt. Mike Baumgartner.

Experts say offshore currents and winds have been pushing three jellyfish species -- purple-striped, fried-egg and giant black -- onto local beaches.

Some scientists believe abundant red tides off Southern California, which are now subsiding, have led to more jellyfish that feed on zooplankton. Jellyfish drift on ocean currents and gobble microorganisms and fish that swim into their grasp.

-- Scott Doggett

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