• North Carolina is one of several states where the species has been observed
  • Experts say the jellyfish appear to “grow to unusually large sizes
  • The species can pose ecological problems if left unchecked

An invasive jellyfish species have been recently spotted three times in North Carolina. Although the species' venom is not considered toxic to humans, it can be harmful to local waters.

It was only in July when beachgoers were surprised to find a "monster jellyfish" in South Cornwall, U.K. Now, North Carolina is having a similar issue with several invasive White-spotted jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata) being observed in the state, The Charlotte Observer reports, citing an earlier warning from non-profit group Science by the Sea.

"White-spotted Jellyfish have arrived to North Carolina with three different sightings between Wrightsville Beach and Beaufort in the past 2 weeks," Science by the Sea wrote in a Facebook post. "Be on the lookout for this #invasivespecies. Feel free to scoop them out of the water and deposit on land if you see one."

The white-spotted jellyfish is considered an invasive species that are believed to be native across parts of Australia and throughout Southeast Asia. However, the species has also made its way to other parts of the world, including Brazil and the United States.

According to the United States Geological Service's (USGS) data, the states where the species has been spotted include Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and North and South Carolina. In North Carolina, the first and last observations of the species were in 2007, but the recent sightings show the presence of the species in the area.

Although the species' venom is not considered a threat to humans, they can be particularly problematic for the ecosystem with their capability to eat massive amounts of zooplankton. In fact, the Texas Invasive Species Institute (TSIS) notes that each jellyfish can actually clear 50 cubic meters of plankton-filled water in one day.

Further, they also eat the eggs of some important forage species and also compete with them for food, resulting in the diminishing numbers of important species. In the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, there are concerns that the presence of the jellyfish may significantly impact the commercial fishery of shrimp, fish and crab since they feed on the eggs.

So what can be done about the invasive species? As Science by the Sea mentioned, it's important to keep an eye out for the species. They can be identified by the large, rounded "bell" that typically comes in white or brown coloration with reflective areas that appear like white spots. Although their bell is typically 18 to 20 inches in diameter, the TSIS also notes of one found in North Carolina with a 28-inch bell.

Those who spot the species may report the sighting to the USGS or, as Science by the Sea suggested, just scoop them out of the water.