The resurgence of cases of seabather's eruption (SBE), also known as “sea lice,” in Florida and the Caribbean has rekindled interest in finding a causative agent for this ailment. In May and June of 1992, plankton tows were done along several beaches in southeast Florida
coincident with reports of SBE. Several of the tows contained large numbers of zooxanthellate green and brown planulae, as well as Trichodesmium and copepods. The planulae were removed to dishes where they settled and developed into scyphistomae, which were identified as the benthic
stage of the coronate scyphozoan Linuche unguiculata. A few have since strobilated, producing many ephyrae that have developed into the medusoid stage, confirming the identification. We propose that the planulae of this species become trapped under the bathing suits of swimmers and
are the main causative agent of SBE. There is much evidence to support Linuche planulae, if not other cnidarian planulae, as the cause of SBE.
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