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news releases

May 6, 2016

Contact: Bob Considine (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795


(16/34) TRENTON – In its ongoing efforts to protect the ecological health of Barnegat Bay, the Department of Environmental Protection will host a series of Barnegat Bay Bulkhead Blitz events this month to demonstrate simple steps waterfront property owners can take to help reduce populations of sea nettles, a type of stinging and highly predatory jellyfish that can diminish recreational enjoyment of the bay and create ecological imbalance.

The Barnegat Bay Bulkhead Blitz pilot project, which started last fall in Toms River, is designed to educate those with floating docks and man-made bulkheads that help to keep stinging sea nettles in check is as simple as periodically scrubbing or power-washing the speck-sized polyps that adhere themselves to hard surfaces. These polyps then spawn into buds, which are released into the water in the spring and grow to become sea nettles in the summer.

DEP staff and other volunteers will be out in lagoon communities in Brick, Mantoloking and Berkeley Township in the coming days to demonstrate how property owners can be part of the solution by scrubbing their decks and bulkheads.

“Our research conducted in partnership with Montclair University shows we can all make an impact on controlling sea nettles by taking a few simple, but effective steps in the spring or in the fall,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Sea nettle populations can become problematic in areas where water flow is restricted. The scrubbing or powerwashing of bulkheads and docks can greatly reduce the number of sea nettles we see later in the summer.”

Media are invited to cover Barnegat Bay Bulkhead Blitz events on the following dates below, but must RSVP with the DEP Press Office to coordinate access by boat. Space is limited.

  • Friday, May 13 in Curtis Point section of Mantoloking, starting at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 22 in Berkeley Shores and Good Luck Point sections of Berkeley Township, starting at 10 a.m.
  • Thursday, May 19 in Shore Acres section of Brick Township, starting at 10 a.m.

The Bulkhead Blitz was conceived after the DEP reviewed the results of a three-year, DEP-funded research study about the presence of sea nettles in Barnegat Bay as part of the Christie Administration’s comprehensive action plan to address the bay’s ecological health.

The $283,000 study, conducted by Dr. Paul Bologna, Director of Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences at Montclair State University, determined that a higher density of sea nettles in the northern areas of Barnegat Bay could expand southward, as well as into other New Jersey estuaries and coastal waters, potentially posing threats to other marine life.

To further battle sea nettles, DEP is providing funding for Montclair State University to conduct a research study to identify potential natural predators of sea nettle polyps.  Nudibranchs, a marine gastropod mollusk and known predator, will be collected from Barnegat Bay and used in laboratory studies to determine the species that are the most effective in feeding on polyps.  Field studies will also be conducted in Barnegat Bay lagoons

Scrubbing the nettles off hard surfaces at this time of year prevents their full development for the next summer season and helps curtail their spread to other parts of the bay.

“Sea nettle polyps prefer hard, smooth surfaces such as those found on bulkheads, floating docks, and even trash,” said Joe Bilinski, Barnegat Bay Project Manager for DEP’s Division of Science, Research and Environmental Health. “These preventative measures can be employed to assist in limiting available habitat for sea nettle settlement, which can help reduce their numbers.”

Lagoons are nutrient-rich and tucked-in waterways, meaning there is minimal tidal flow into and out of them, said Lynette Lurig, a DEP research scientist. Sea nettles, which are voracious eaters and thrive in nitrogen-rich waters, can be plentiful in these areas. Removing polyps now from bulkheads and floating docks in these areas is an important component to stemming next season’s jellyfish population, Lurig said.

Property owners in lagoon communities are encouraged to remove floating docks during the winter or clean them using a non-wire scrub brush or by powerwashing manmade bulkheads and docks at and below the high tide line to remove sea nettles. Detergents or other cleansers are not necessary during the scrubbing process.

To view an instructional video called “Don’t Let The Sea Nettles Settle” and to  learn more about the Christie Administration’s Comprehensive Action Plan to address the Ecological Decline of Barnegat Bay, please visit:




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Last Updated: April 28, 2016