Naturalists say hundreds of jellyfish that have washed up on local beaches in recent weeks are the result of a natural population boom.
The jellyfish are likely moon jellies, a common jellyfish species that is known to breed in great numbers, said Steve Johnston, a staff member at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
"Occasionally, a couple of things conspire," he said, "and the conditions are just right for a population explosion."
The factors that control jellyfish population are algal blooms — which the jellies feed upon — water temperature and currents. Jellies float at the mercy of winds and current and, inevitably, some of them drift close to the shore and get caught in the surf where they wash ashore and die, Johnston said.
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