Sharks, jellyfish at the shore are ‘completely normal,’ expert says
With a number of reports of sharks, jellyfish and even manta rays there's been lots of excitement and a fair amount of anxiety at the Jersey Shore in recent weeks.
While many beachgoers feel nervous about these creatures being in the ocean, the experts tell us having them swimming around off the Jersey coast is completely normal.
"People should expect to see different kinds of sea creatures when they head down the shore, since these animals have been there forever, longer than humans, it's just that the social media event now is triggering the excitement and the shock," said Bob Schoelkopf, the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.
He said unfortunately these days "people are too busy looking at their iPhones and not looking out over the ocean and past the breakers to see these things that have always been there."
According to Schoelkopf, there are currents moving up the East Coast now that contain a variety of sea creatures.
"That's what travels in them, is the southern species of fish and stingrays and everything else that normally we wouldn't see up here," he said. "Especially this time of year when we have all the visitors down at the Jersey Shore from out of state, they're totally amazed the number of sharks and fish that inhabit the same water that they're treading in."
He added in some ways, going down the shore this time of year is similar to taking a walk in the forest and seeing a bear.
"If you don't want to be attacked by a bear don't approach it," he said. "Same thing with sharks in the ocean, they're there, they're there for a purpose, they serve their purpose, if you feel uncomfortable that they're in the water, stay out of the water, that's why they make swimming pools."
He said the bottom line here is simple.
"People need to read National Geographic more regularly. They'll learn this is part of nature that's always been there. Take your eyes off your cell phone and stop looking down, start looking out, you won't be so surprised about what's in the ocean," he said.
Schoelkopf also offered one final piece of advice.
"If you are on the beach and see something going through the water that looks like a fin, then common sense should tell you don't go into the water to investigate it."