Jellyfish Season In Florida Keys For Snorkeling?

by Cary Bennett
(Roswell, GA)

Is there a high jellyfish season in the Florida Keys? I have a snorkeling trip planned for the Middle Keys for late September and thought we were all set, until I did more reading just now and realized that it may well put us in the water during jellyfish season.

Has anyone been there during the September time frame and have any experiences to offer on this front? I am beginning to consider other locations so as not to waste time and resources ($$) if we will be spending all of our time dodging jellies.

I have read reports on TripAdvisor from last Sept. of people getting in the water and encountering so many jellies that they got out and gave up after only a couple of minutes and were upset that they had wasted money without knowing how bad it was going to be. With this being a warmer than normal year, I suspect this year's jellyfish population could be astronomical.

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Jul 30, 2012
Jellyfish horrible our last trip
by: Anonymous

We took our first trip to the Keys in August of 2011. No one had mentioned the problem of jellyfish until we were in a guided snorkeling boat heading out to the reef area (already had paid and already trapped for the day). The guides said to just swim around them but that there may be quite a few because of the strong winds they had had in the previous week. Winds sometimes carry them in we were told.

The experience was absolutely horrible, at least for newbies to snorkeling. There were so many jellies that you could not avoid them, and at least 5 of the snorkelers had to be rescued out in the water and were panicked and in pain due to numerous stings. My daughter was trying to get back to the boat and just had to bite the bullet and get stung repeatedly as she swam back. She will never get in the ocean again I am sure.

Most people were only in the water for about 5 to 10 minutes before they gave up.

An expensive and painful lesson to be sure.

Aug 07, 2012
August Florida Keys Jelly Report
by: Wisco

I just got back from the Middle Keys and can report that the jellies are pretty light at Alligator and Sombrero reefs. We saw mostly Moon Jellies of less than 6 inches in diameter and only ran into a "patch of jellies" during a noon-time snorkel at Alligator. Our guides told us that this year has been better for jellies (fewer of them) compared to 2011.

Bring a small bottle of white vinegar and wear a swim shirt to protect your armpits (the worst place to get stung) and you should be fine. Remember jellies are part of the marine wildlife, so don't freak out if you see one or happen to get stung.

Feb 09, 2015
Jelly season...
by: Jilly M

While on a 'girls trip,' we went snorkeling off Key West. Yes, it was jelly season. (Aug-Sept, if I remember.) Yes, I was stung and it hurt a little.

My daughter, however, found out she was allergic. Bring a vinegar solution, and either Benadryl or an antihistamine based sea sickness medicine (which is what I gave her).

Wear a rash guard and long swim tights, if you can. My understanding is that they only sting where they actually touch skin. So cover up and enjoy. Then you don't need sunscreen so much, either!

Mar 07, 2015
Jellyfish in the Keys
by: Anne W.

My husband and I live in North Fort Myers and go over to the Keys throughout the summer, some of the nicest snorkeling with a great variety of fish. The jellyfish are a regular occurrence and you can forget the month of August and most of September. August is horrible, walls and walls of jellyfish. You'll spend most of your time trying to swim around them or watching out for them.

We like to go in late May to end of July then back out in October and early November before the water cools down too much.

Apr 19, 2015
Business Owner
by: Anelys Pereira

Yes, lots of jellyfish in the water in the month of September. Do not go during that time.

Sep 28, 2015
by: Anonymous

We went just recently to Key Largo on a snorkeling tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. DO NOT GO in September. There were moon jellyfish everywhere, there was no way around them. Everyone that got off the boat (about 40) managed to get stung. The discomfort lasts about 40 minutes. Save your time and money for the off season.

On a happier note, the short amount of time I was in the water I did get to see some cool fish.

Nov 04, 2015
Looe Reef
by: Duluth

We arrived in mid-late September for 10 days and was told by locals that the rainy weather was non-stop for the previous 2 weeks and that the jellyfish were huge purple patches for even longer... We had perfect weather and only found 3-4 individual jellies to take pics of.

On our last day in Florida we snorkeled the beach around Captiva Island and flew out later that day from Fort Myers. Will be visualizing it all winter while I shovel and plow snow.

Mar 04, 2016
by: Amy

We went on the snorkeling trip in late October 2014. There were jellies, but nothing major. Just make sure and plan your trip on a cloudless day.

Apr 16, 2016
Islamorada Jellies
by: Cardy

We took a trip to Islamorada during the end of August beginning of September. There were too many jellies!! There was no way to avoid getting stung.

Jul 26, 2016
Key Largo Jellies
by: Tammy

Snorkeled the past three days in various locations. On Molasses Reef and Snappers Ledge there were random clumps of moon jellies floating around and I didn't get stung at all. French Reef had very few moon jellies and I managed to get zapped twice. It stung quite a bit but after I got back on board the boat and sprayed with vinegar several times, the stinging stopped and I continued snorkeling. Still have some small welts, but pain free. Awesome snorkeling this weekend in spite of my war wounds!

Sep 29, 2016
Jellyfish Middle Keys
by: Heidi

We are here last week of September. It rained the first 4 days then finally a beautiful day, very few jellyfish. It was wonderful. But the next day... if they had been stepping stones, I'd have been able to walk on water.

However, the gulf side had none every day we went out that it didn't rain.

In past years: August, September and October have been rough for Jellyfish. I think we're going for June or July from now on, or dive under with a hooka if you can, it works well.

Oct 04, 2016
Jellyfish Galore
by: Yanelie

Just got home from mini-vacation in Key Largo 9/30-10/3. We went out on a boat on Saturday to the Jesus Of The Abyss Statue out of John Pennekamp State Park. We couldn't even get off the boat, I have never seen so many jellyfish. We were all literally counting them... 25,26... 30,36... incredible. Saturday was a complete disappointment.

We went back out on Sunday to the Mosquito Sandbar to give it another shot. Again, jellies everywhere. Enough was enough, into the water we went. Yes, I know, we are crazy but as Miamians we practically live in the ocean year round. Not much that can keep us away. Apparently, they were all moon jellies that aren't very dangerous. A few brushed our leg with maybe a little sting, as bad as razor burn, nothing to even say ouch for.

So my advice- do not come in September or October if you prefer not to swim with these pests. Another idea is to wear a wet suit, that'll do it. Good luck!

Jul 16, 2017
Weekend in the Keys
by: Blue Grass Babies

My girlfriend and I just got back from the Keys. We stayed July 7th through the 10th. Went out on 3 snorkeling trips and did not see one single jelly. BEAUTIFUL weather. Was not too hot. Cloudy from time to time, but that was all.

Jul 31, 2017
Dry Tortugas Jellyfish in August?
by: NYSnorkeler

What is the jellyfish season like in Dry Tortugas in August? Is it just as bad as the rest of the Keys? Just wondering if the 70 miles from Key West to Dry Tortugas makes a difference in the number of jellies. Thank You.

Feb 21, 2019
by: Anonymous

I lived in the Upper Florida Keys and was in the water every day in the 70's. So I took my wife to see my old stomping ground on 2008. We rented a kayak and she and I went in the bay side for a couple miles south of the Islamorada public beach. The water was calm yet I've never seen so many jellyfish. The areas around the mangroves were scary everywhere. I wouldn't get out of that kayak to save my life. There were literally thousands. Be careful as the stings can send you to the hospital. I've seen some people have serious reactions that can make you wish you were dead to escape the pain. Good luck and at all costs avoid these marine varmints.

Aug 25, 2019
Don't Go in August
by: Anonymous

We snorkeled on August 22, 2019, our first day on vacation with a two stop snorkel group. First stop was an artificial reef. There were jellyfish EVERYWHERE. Of the 20 people on the boat, eight were brave enough to get in and four got stung and that was only in 10 minutes. We ended up getting back into the boat and went to the next location, "The Jetties." There were none in those clear waters close to shore. So that was OK.

I rented a pontoon boat the next day. All over the "darker" areas of the ocean were jellies. Mainly moon jellyfish, cone jellies and a couple of pink bulbous ones I don't know the name of. All the way up to the outer edge of Crab Island. There weren't any at Crab Island though. Just in the deeper parts.

Oct 07, 2019
Jellyfish October 2019
by: Anonymous

We are headed to the Keys in a couple weeks. Does anyone know how the jellyfish are currently? Thanks!

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