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Spotted Jellyfish Sighting In Chula Vista Another Sign Of El Niño

A sighting of Australian spotted jellyfish in the South Bay may provide another sign of the coming El Niño weather pattern expected to hit San Diego this winter.

The ocean water is unseasonably warm, producing life rarely seen in San Diego, said Elizabeth Argyle, an educator at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista. She said the jellyfish are common in the warmer Western Pacific Ocean, but were also recently discovered by a volunteer at a pier in Chula Vista.

"It is kind of unusual that all of a sudden we are seeing them over on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean here in San Diego," she said. "The currents change a lot during El Niño years and those currents oftentimes are pushed up from Mexico, instead of down towards Mexico. Because of that we get warmer waters typically in El Niño years."

Spotted jellyfish are also a threat to the local ecosystem because they can filter 13,000 gallons of water a day, which sucks up vital nutrients other sea life feed on. Unlike the last rare sighting of Black jellyfish in San Diego, this species isn't considered dangerous to people. But it can produce a mild sting if touched.

"It's not fatal, it's not dangerous, it does just leave a kind of nasty little sting behind," Argyle said.

The Living Coast Discovery Center also has a massive California moray eel and opaleye rudderfish that change colors depending upon the time of day.

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