Tybee Jellyfish

Posted By Joseph Richardson, Ph.D / July 1, 2015 / Discover Tybee / 10 Comments

Tybee Jellyfish

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Lion’s Mane

As you walk Tybee’s beach you are likely to see a variety of animals that live in the sand or have washed up from off shore. So it’s not only seashells, sand dollars and fossil shark teeth that you might find; but you are also likely to see animals such as sponges, soft corals, horseshoe crabs and a variety of other animals that live in deeper water but have been cast ashore due to currents, waves and tides. And among the animals that you might encounter on the sand or in the water are jellyfish.


3. Mushroom jelly

Mushroom jelly

Most of the jellyfish we see along Tybee are seasonal and here only during limited months. During the winter we have a couple of cold-water species: the Lion’s Mane Jelly, and the Mushroom Jelly. The Lion’s Mane has a very mild “sting” that I consider more of an irritation (like a mosquito bite) rather than a sting. The Mushroom Jelly is our largest jellyfish, but it doesn’t sting.

5. Spider Crab in Cannonball-jelly

Spider Crab in Cannonball-jelly

One jelly that we see here year round is the Cannonball Jelly (photo 4). They are ball-shaped and feel more like rubber or plastic instead of soft and mushy. Cannonball Jellies don’t have any long tentacles that sting, so they are pretty harmless. They are probably my favorite jelly fish. Anytime I see one, especially if it has just washed up or still in the water, I’ll hold it upside down and look inside because sometimes there will be a Spider Crab hitching a ride up inside! . So if you see a fresh Cannonball Jelly, check it out. There might be a “treasure” in there!

7 Moon Jelly

Moon Jelly

During the summer, we are likely to see a couple of other jellyfish along the beach. The flat, round, clear jellyfish is a Moon Jelly (photo 7 & 8). They can be the size of a dinner plate. You can identify a Moon Jelly by the four “horseshoe shaped” canals around the middle. Moon Jellies have fairly short tentacles, and they produce a relatively mild sting. You will notice it, but it’s not really painful.

9. Sea Wasp Jelly

Sea Wasp Jelly

It’s usually during late July and into mid-August when we get the Sea Wasp Jellyfish along Tybee. They are clear and have long, hair-like tentacles. The Sea Wasp Jellyfish sting is strong, and you will notice it for sure. Because they are clear, you usually can’t see them in the water. But even when they have washed up on the beach, their tentacles can still sting. So you don’t want to mess with them.

There are a variety of treatments for jellyfish stings. Our Tybee lifeguards usually have something available during the “stinging season.” Some folks use vinegar, some use ammonia. I usually just use ice from my cooler. My son claims that cold soft drink works best! And then later on, I use an anti-itching cream because my Sea Wasp stings seem to itch for a few days.


dr-joeDr. Joe Richardson is a retired marine science professor who has studied, researched and taught marine biology/science along Georgia’s coast and Bahamas for more than 35 years. Dr. Joe also conducts Tybee Beach Ecology Trips (www.TybeeBeachEcology.com) year-round for families, schools, scouts, and other groups. He regularly reports his findings on his “Tybee Beach Ecology Trips” facebook page. And for more information and pictures about Tybee’s marine biogeography and seasonality, see his webpage: www.ceasurf.com/pages/TybeeDiversity.aspx




  • Chelle
    March 17, 2020 at 11:10 am

    My family lived in Ft. Stewart, GA from 1998-2002 (I was 10 when we left) and I remember going to Tybee all the time year-round. My least favorite memories we’re getting stung by jellyfish, but I’m glad I stumbled upon this page! The nostalgia and memories are very strong!

  • madelyn
    February 14, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    thanks for this! im still worried about the sea wasp tho

  • Celeste Stover
    September 22, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    My granddaughter was stung by the Sea Wasp while in the water on September 22, 2018 and she just knew she was going to die. The sting left several large welts on her leg. This must have been the very last jellyfish at North Beach on Tybee! Your article educated us on jellyfish and relieved her mind about the sting.

  • Max
    October 4, 2016 at 12:02 am

    I m on vacation here in tybee…. My aunt just got stung and I’ve been very worried about getting stung myself….. Do you think I have anything to worry about, or should I be on the look out?

  • Vikki
    August 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    When the jellies are washed up on the beach are they dead or do they survive till hi tied takes them out again

    • Joe Richardson
      September 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Usually if they have washed up on the beach, they are in pretty bad shape if not dead already. And if they dry out for very long, they will die. But even when dead, their tentacles can still fire off and sting.

  • Jo Ann Parker
    July 31, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for this information, We will be visiting…first time in about 2 weeks…and look forward to learning more about the nature aspect of Tybee Island

  • Jack Stroldon
    May 19, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Some of these jellyfishes look really cool. I like the semi – transparent Moon Jellyfish most. Do you mean Box Jellyfish as “Sea Wasp”? Are not they deadly? Anyway, I hope that I’ll come to Tybee Island soon.

    • Joe P Richardson
      May 23, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Our Sea Wasp is a type of box jellyfish. Some have more powerful stings than others. And importantly, different people react differently, even to the same toxin.

  • Rebecca Baker
    July 1, 2015 at 11:25 am

    This was very informative! Now that I have read this article, I’ve be more on the lookout for the different types of jellyfish along my beachfront walks when I vacation on Tybee Island. I love spending time there together with my family and friends!

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