It’s that time of year again along the Grand Strand. Yes, you are more likely to see Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio license plates than South Carolina tags on cars passing them as they cruise up US 17. The days are long, warm, and sunny. And Atlantic Ocean temperatures are near bath-water warm. Every time is a great time to live in Myrtle Beach, but the spring and summer are almost magic. It is the time of year most people associate with the South Carolina Grand Strand. With more than sixty miles of endless white sandy beaches, summertime is the perfect time to live in Myrtle Beach.
Every Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand beachgoer and swimmer need to be aware of two things: 1. Yes, there are jellyfish, and 2. Most of them are totally harmless. Although the most common jellyfish, the cannonball or cabbage head jellyfish is capable of stinging, the sting is so mild that most people don’t even notice.
“Yesterday, I decided to take my wife and kids to the beach at high tide. We immediately had to turn around because there was nowhere to walk,” says Bret French, a Real Estate Professional at Keller Williams The Trembley Group, located at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. “Being a local, I was astonished. I had never seen anything quite like it before. There were definitely thousands of jellyfish. It was amazing and a little intimidating at the same time, especially for my kids.”
Sometimes, when the jellyfish wash up on the beach, they look like giant gooey eyeballs with thick stems. These are the most common jellyfish in the area and are known as the Cannonball Jellies. They don’t have tentacles and swimmers would have to go out of their way to be stung by these jellyfish. Most locals argue that they’re nonvenomous. A few say they’re only very slightly venomous. In either case, they’re the least harmful of all the South Carolina jellies. Cannonball jellyfish are generally considered harmless to humans.
Everyone loves to see the leatherback sea turtles swimming along the Myrtle Beach shore and to see their nests and even see them hatch in the dunes. The cannonball jellyfish is a favorite food of leatherback sea turtles, which follow them north this time of the year to feed.
Cannonball jellies, like most jellyfish, don’t swim and are at the mercy of the currents, winds, and tides. They tend to start turning up in nearshore waters during April, pushed in from the Gulf Stream by the washes of warmer water. The cannonball jellyfish are a sign that the surf is approaching that magic bathwater-temperature zone that most people find so appealing.
Most Grand Strand beachgoers have grown accustomed to seeing the occasional jellyfish on the beach. Some Myrtle Beach residents have even been known to pet them as they walked along the beach.
Jellyfish in the Food Chain
Jellyfish form an essential part of the marine food chain. Carnivorous, they feed on a variety of small floating and near-surface animals and occasionally other jellyfish. Larger jellyfish can capture and devour large crustaceans and other marine organisms.
In turn, many marine animals, including spadefish, sunfish, and sea turtles, eat jellyfish.
In Southeast Asia, some species, including the mushroom and cannonball jellyfish, are considered a delicacy by humans. The jellyfish are pickled or semi-dried and are consumed in large quantities where they constitute a multimillion-dollar part of the seafood business.
Sometimes the high tides and a strong onshore wind create the ideal conditions for the jellyfish. “We were completely flabbergasted by the amount of dead sea creatures that were washed up,” Bret French said about his family’s trip to the beach. “We walked down the beach for only a short distance and saw hundreds of dead jellyfish, crabs, shrimp, and even a dead horseshoe crab. It was a great opportunity and had all the makings for a great biology lesson for the kids.”
The large numbers of the beached jellyfish that Bret and his family encountered aren’t at all unusual given the time of year and recent conditions. As for the other critters, when the winds are blowing as hard as they have been lately, anything on the ocean bottom gets stirred up, bounced around, and pushed ashore with the tide.
Other Jellyfish Common to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand
While the cannonball jellyfish is the most common jellyfish found along the Grand Strand, there are a total of six species a beachgoer might encounter.
Mushroom Jelly – There’s another species of jellyfish that looks like the cannonball jellyfish called the Mushroom Jelly. Mushroom jellies are similar in appearance to the cannonball, but they have tentacles. Like the cannonball, the mushroom jellies are not dangerous to humans, but commercial fishermen find them annoying since they damage their nets and slow down their fishing.
The mushroom jelly is often mistaken for the cannonball jelly, but it differs in several ways. The larger mushroom jelly grows to twenty inches in diameter, lacks the brown bands associated with the cannonball, and is much flatter and softer. Like the cannonball, the mushroom has no tentacles; however, it possesses long finger-like appendages hanging from the feeding apparatus. The mushroom jelly does not represent a hazard to humans.
Lion’s Mane Jelly – Also known as the winter jelly, the lion’s mane typically appears during colder months of the year. The bell, measuring six to eight inches, is saucer-shaped with reddish-brown oral arms and eight clusters of tentacles hanging underneath. Lion’s manes are generally considered moderate stingers. This jelly is considered a winter jelly though, since it visits our area during the colder months (when beach goers are not in the water).
Southern Moon Jelly – Moon Jelly – Probably the most widely recognized jellyfish, the moon jelly is a relatively infrequent visitor to South Carolina waters. It has a transparent, saucer-shaped bell and is easily identified by the four pink horseshoe-shaped gonads visible through the bell. It typically reaches six to eight inches in diameter, but some are known to exceed twenty inches. While this jelly is one of the most well-known jellyfish, it occurs only rarely in Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand waters.
Atlantic Sea Nettle Jelly – The sea nettle is the most often seen in South Carolina waters during summer months. The Atlantic Sea Nettle jellyfish is saucer-shaped with brown or red pigments, usually 6-8 inches in diameter. Four oral arms and long marginal tentacles hang from the bell.
Real Estate Brokers, Clients, Long-nosed Spider Crabs and Jellyfish
“This summer, like most summers, my family spent a lot of our time on the beach,” says Bret French. “One morning, there were a few cannonball jellyfish washed up on the beach. I surprised my kids when I picked one up. These jellies have a rather solid body that is well-formed in a spherical shape and don’t really sting humans. Then I asked them, “Do you know these jellyfish didn’t live alone?”
“Sure enough, when I picked up the jellyfish and turned it over, inside there was a long-nosed spider crab. It is pretty common for these small crabs to live inside these jellies. The kids were excited and wanted to know why? The Jellies and the crabs work together to make each other’s life better.”
The scientific name for this relationship is symbiosis. The jellyfish attracts and kills more food than it eats. This process provides a rich source of food for the spider crab. The crab by eating every little crumb it can find, helps the jelly keep clean, keeps the jelly healthier, and lets it attract more food. The crabs also protect the jellies from other sea creatures that might happen by and feed on the jellyfish. The crab is in turn protected from its predators, by living inside the jellyfish. Working together, both are better off.
“That’s an excellent biology lesson for my kids. But it’s also a good lesson on the best way to conduct a real estate business. Relationships with my clients work much the same way,” Says Bret French. “Good business relationships are mutually beneficial. I benefit, and my clients benefit. Working together, we’re both better off.”
Bret’s business partners usually know when they are receiving value from a broker/client relationship. They’re seeing homes that they like and can afford. A broker knows when he is enjoying the appropriate level of profitability and business growth rate. That’s pretty easy to measure. “And I know that my clients recognize the value of our relationship because they give me referrals and references. We have a good sense as to what makes a good partnership,” says Bret.
“I think my clients have a pretty good understanding as to the value I’m providing them. I know because I ask them. That’s the best way to determine what they’re thinking. I like to sit down with my customers periodically and interview them about the value they are receiving” says Bret French. “I am committed to providing first-class customer service, and the only way I know how to do that is through first-class communication. When I’m doing my job, my clients are loyal, and they tell their friends. That’s the best kind of business I can generate.”
Like cannonball jellyfish and long-nosed spider crabs, in the best business relationships, there is never a winner and a loser. There is not just a buyer and a broker. There are a pair of real estate business partners. Cannonball jellyfish and spider crabs. Who’s driving that relationship? Who knows? In the sale of a home, who benefits the most? In a healthy real estate business relationship, they both benefit. They work together for mutual benefit. “In the symbiotic long-nosed spider crab and cannonball jellyfish relationship, I think there’s a good lesson to be learned for all real estate business relationships,” says Bret French.
At Keller Williams The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice.