Stinging jellyfish invade Baltimore's harbor, swim downtownS

Baltimore's inner harbor has been taken over by milky-white creatures with long, trailing tentacles. The jellyfish swarmed into the harbor last week, and were last seen heading downtown.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the lack of rainfall has raised the salinity levels of the harbor to the point where the "sea nettles" felt comfortable in the usually inhospitable waters of the bay:

Scientists identified them as Chrysaora quinquecirrha - the most common of sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay. Usually, though, they hang out farther south, where they sting unwary bathers and swimmers.

But the researchers said the lack of rainfall this summer likely triggered the harbor invasion by making the water here just salty enough to attract them. It's been abnormally dry on both sides of the bay, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with moderate to extreme drought gripping the western end of the state and the lower Eastern Shore.

Stinging jellyfish invade Baltimore's harbor, swim downtownS

Photos by Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun. [Baltimore Sun]