It may be surprising, but there are hundreds, even thousands of different types of jellyfish in the world’s waters today. Some are familiar and others are rare. Some can be found in tropical waters and others in frigid oceans. Find out all you need to know about this fascinating creature.
All types of jellyfish are made up of mostly water – up to 97% of their body. They appear to be floating in the water and cannot see you if you’re swimming nearby. A jellyfish has no brain, heart, blood, or gills – but they do have the ability to eat and smell. A mouth (or mouths) on their body collects zooplankton, eating as they float around.
Since a jellyfish has no backbone (or any bones at all), they are classified as an invertebrate. Their alternative name of Cnidaria comes from the Greek word for “stinging nettle” – cnidos. Their reputation for danger is long-established.
Jellyfish have tentacles much like a squid, hanging off of their bell-shaped body. The tentacles help to capture food and are the source of the stings jellyfish are famous for. The Arctic lion jellyfish has tentacles up to 100 feet in length. Others range in length depending on the size and age of the creature.
Jellyfish stings come from a cell that they carry around. That cell has a nematocyst inside covered by a lid, which is activated by sensory hair. When anything gets too close and tickles or moves the sensory hair, the lid pops and the nematocyst flies out like a bullet, delivering a sting in seconds. Once you have irritated this defensive system, you are in for a sting.
Not all types of jellyfish are poisonous though. Some are so harmless that they carry tiny sea creatures underneath and amidst their tentacles, offering protection. Other types can kill a human within 3 minutes.
A jellyfish swims by collecting water under their bodies, then pushing it out with the coronal muscle. The force of the water one way pushes the jellyfish in the opposite direction – a very efficient mode of transportation.
Jellyfish come in many colors of the rainbow, from blue to purple, red, orange, and brown. Some even glow in the dark. The creature can be found in freshwater all over the globe, with the possible exception of Africa, and is also abundant in the oceans.
The most common jellyfish seen in aquariums around the world is the moon jelly or Aurelia Aurita. They are about 6 to 8 inches in size and 20 inches in diameter. Moon jelly stings are mild and not fatal.
The Lion’s Mane jellyfish or Cyanea capillary is common in myths and stories – the stereotypical jellyfish. Despite its name, this jelly prefers the cold, winter waters. It has a bell about 6 to 8 inches and arms that are a reddish-brown color. It will sting, but the attack will produce a rash that is more irritating than painful.
Another strangely beautiful type is the upside-down jellyfish (also called the Mangrove Jelly). They float upside down when compared to other species and often are mistaken for blue water flowers. They reside in shallow waters and rest on the bed or bottom, holding their tentacles up to the sunlight.
Often thought of as a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man of War (or Physalia physalis) is not a true type. It looks similar, with a bell-shaped body and tentacles. A Portuguese Man of War will also sting if you venture too close, and that may result in shock and fever as well as a severe rash.
Truly fascinating, the many types of jellyfish can be studied and compared for an enormous amount of time. Many are not threatening to humans, but it’s best to know which one you will encounter ahead of time to avoid a painful sting. Find out what types of jellyfish live near your home and visit them to learn more.
What does the Jellyfish Habitat Consist of?
Learning about the jellyfish habitat can help you to find them for careful observation. It can also give you a new appreciation for the miraculous way in which this particular creature can live in the water. They are quite fragile so it is important to help preserve their habitat as well. When it is taken away or polluted the number of jellyfish out there drops by large numbers.
There are more than 200 different species of jellyfish in the world today. They have a vast habitat that they cover which makes them one of the most versatile types of creatures in the world. They range in area from the extremely cold waters of the Arctic where hardly anything lives to the very warm tropical waters.
For most of them, the jellyfish habitat is going to be found very close to the shoreline. They can live in the smallest of harbors and bays out there. It is amazing how small some of the species of jellyfish happen to be. In bodies of water where you see bluish-green algae towards the edge, they are likely living. Some of the species out there can thrive by consuming this algae.
Larger species of them though are found towards the middle area of bodies of water. This is because such a jellyfish habitat offers them warmer temperatures. They can be seen at the surface of the water but they are usually found below it and go undetected. If you don’t know what you are looking for you may miss them as they can easily blend into their surroundings.
The biggest species of jellyfish have their habitat towards the floor of the water. As a result, they are harder to get to see in person. If you have been scuba diving you may come into contact with some of the medium-sized and smaller ones. Experienced divers have been able to record lots of footage regarding the living areas of these larger jellyfish that are well hidden in the waters.
It may surprise you to learn that a jellyfish habitat can be found in both saltwater and freshwater. They are found all over the world except Africa. Experts have been puzzled by that fact for a very long time. Even though they have spent time conducting research, they haven’t been able to identify factors that prevent the jellyfish from living in such a region.
Despite these variables, all species have one thing in common. A jellyfish habitat has to be clean. If the water is dirty due to oil spills, pollution, or chemicals then they will have a hard time surviving. The thin layers on their bodies can be easily penetrated. As a result, bacteria from the water can affect their internal organs.
This is why you may sometimes see jellyfish that are on the shore – they simply weren’t able to survive adequately in the water around them for one reason or another. When there are several of these jellyfish on the shore it is a red flag to experts that something within the water needs to be isolated. Otherwise, there is a risk of large numbers of them dying because of it.
It can be lots of fun to evaluate a jellyfish habitat. It can offer you the opportunity to get a close look at some of nature’s creatures. However, you do want to be very careful about your actions in such an area. You don’t want to accidentally upset the balance that is in place for such a delicate habitat.
The Iracongi Jellyfish, which is also known as the Irukandji Jellyfish, is a small jellyfish found around Australia that is known to be extremely toxic. There are two varieties of these tiny creatures and they are the Carukia barnesi and the Malo kingi. The latter has been discovered fairly recently.
The Iracongi Jellyfish has been named after an aboriginal tribe of Australia called the Irukandji. This tribe occupied the strip of coastal land that lies north of Cairns in the Queensland area and this is the region where the Irukandji Syndrome was found. Hugo Flecker found the details of this Syndrome during this research and recorded it in 1952. Dr. Jack Barnes made the connection between the jellyfish found in the area and the Irukandji Syndrome in 1964. He is credited with having made the very first identification of the Carukia Barnes. He established the connection between the Iracongi Jellyfish and the medical syndrome by getting himself stung by the creature.
The Iracongi Jellyfish has stings in its tentacles and bell and this means that you should avoid getting in contact with not only the tentacles but the bell of this jellyfish also. Interestingly, these deadly jellyfish are very fragile and so it is very difficult to take care of them in an aquarium or a fish bowl. Even the slight impact against the sides of the tank is said to be enough to kill them.
This is ironic when you consider that a sting from these tiny and frail creatures can cause a major impact on an adult human being. The complex set of symptoms that are now called Irukandji Syndrome includes excruciating pain in various parts of the body including migraines, heavy sweating, heightened blood pressure, increased heart and pulse rate, nausea, and vomiting. The sting itself is reported to be not very painful but the reactions that set in anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours can leave a person feeling debilitated.
The syndrome can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, and hospitalization is often required for the patients. There have been known cases of people dying after being stung by the Iracongi Jellyfish. There is also some uncertainty in the statistics because other deaths caused by the Iracongi Jellyfish may have been wrongly diagnosed or attributed to some other cause incorrectly. Magnesium Sulfate has been used to treat this syndrome since 2007.
We need to avoid the Iracongi Jellyfish if we do not want a bad bout of symptoms so it is necessary to learn to identify these sea creatures. These jellyfish are really tiny and fairly colorless. Given that they are about the size of your tiniest fingernail and they are transparent, it is not easy to spot them in the water. The warmer waters of the shoreline attract the Iracongi Jellyfish and so you are likely to see them close to the coast. However, stay warned that they have also been spotted two to three miles from the shore on occasion and it is not a good idea to assume that you can easily avoid them.
If you are in waters where the Iracongi Jellyfish are known to reside, take any sensation of a sting very seriously. Usual sting treatments such as vinegar are known to be ineffectual for treating Irukandji Syndrome and you should get immediate medical help. Given that every summer 50-60 people seek hospitalization for this problem, it is possible to manage it effectively with medical help. Magnesium infusions using a drip are effective in countering the effects of the venom of the Iracongi Jellyfish. By seeking immediate help you can easily avoid going through the extreme physical and mental distress associated with the Irukandji Syndrome.
What Do Jellyfish Eat
Jellyfish are an especially interesting part of marine life in many ecosystems, and one common question experts get is, “What do jellyfish eat?” Let’s start by talking about the very basics of this kind of marine creature. Jellyfish are not fish, and some people prefer to call them jellies because of it. They’re found in every ocean at all depths, and some varieties are even found in freshwater lakes. Jellyfish usually only a year or two, but the larger ones can live anywhere from five to 10 years.
Jellyfish generally spend their days floating around among the currents, grabbing whatever food they grab with their tentacles. The tentacles are used to sting prey and bring it closer to the jellyfish so it can consume it. Besides drifting among the currents, jellyfish may also propel themselves by tightening and then contracting their bell, which is the main section where all the tentacles attach.
Since jellyfish do not have an actual digestive system, they digest food by absorbing nutrients through the lining of their gastrovascular cavity. The jellyfish consumes food through the same opening as it releases waste. This makes the question “What do jellyfish eat?” especially interesting. You might expect that not having a digestive system would lend itself to eating plants, but the jellyfish is a carnivorous creature. They usually eat zooplankton, comb jellies, and even other jellyfish. Large varieties of jellyfish can consume larger crustaceans and other marine creatures.
Many jellyfish are simply passive hunters that eat whatever food happens to get close enough for them to grab. However, some are very aggressive hunters that eat small fish. Other varieties of jellyfish are known as filter feeders. This is because the question “What do jellyfish eat?” can be answered as simply as, “water.” Filter feeders take in the water around them and absorb the nutrients from anything that’s in the water. Having too many filter feeders can wreak havoc on an ecosystem because they tend to consume just about anything, including the eggs and larvae of shrimp and oysters. Filter feeders may also devour so many zooplankton that they throw the balance of the ecosystem off-kilter.
Jellyfish can be extremely harmful to humans. Some varieties of jellyfish have even been known to kill humans. For example, the box jellyfish kills over 60 people per year in Australia, on average. If a jellyfish stings you, it’s important to get the stingers out and treat the poison. The poison from some varieties of jellyfish doesn’t cause any symptoms, although the poison from others can kill you in just three minutes.
Jellyfish can fall prey to a variety of other sea creatures. Those wanting to thin out the number of jellyfish in their area may try to increase the population of the creatures which eat jellyfish. Common jellyfish predators include spadefish, sunfish, and loggerhead turtles. Crabs may also eat smaller jellyfish that can’t eat them. Some people also enjoy eating jellyfish, and they’re considered a delicacy in some cultures.
Intriguing Facts about the Purple Jellyfish
Jellyfish of all species, even the purple jellyfish belong to Phylum Cnidaria and Class Scyphozoa, which are two words in Greek that translate to “Stinging Nettle” and “Cup.” Although we call this creature a jellyfish, in truth, it is not a fish at all but plankton, which consists of drifting organisms including plants, animals, bacteria, and archaea.
Although all jellyfish, including the purple jellyfish move about the water with great skill, they do not swim. Typically, jellyfish are found in ocean waters although there are a few species that survive in rivers and lakes. Interestingly, the purple jellyfish is just one of 10,000 unique species, each unique, and have existed on this planet for more than 6 million years.
Some species are better known than the purple jellyfish such as the Lion’s Mane, Box Jellyfish, and Man-o-War, although none are as beautiful. However, the one thing that all jellyfish share is a painful sting. Both the Lion’s Mane and Box jellyfish have such powerful stings that they can be fatal. Sadly, people die from stings every year and even for the non-lethal stings, the pain produced by a sting is horrific.
The body of the jellyfish varies depending on the species. Some are quite small, even hard to see, and others can grow to seven feet long or more. Some species of jellyfish have tentacles that reach beyond 120 feet. For the purple jellyfish, it is shaped like a bell, which can measure up to 70 centimeters in diameter. This species also has four tentacles that contain stingers and several nematocysts on the sides that deliver a bad sting. The purple jellyfish also has eight sensory rho palla that can detect light, pressure, and smell changes, as well as other external stimuli.
For feeding, the purple jellyfish depends on the tentacles that are designed to paralyze or even kill prey. From there, the tentacles bring the food to the jellyfish’s mouth. As far as diet, most jellyfish eat larval fish, salps, fish eggs, ctenophores, zooplankton, copepods, and sometimes, scyphomedusa. Although many people think of jellyfish as being creepy, the truth is that if you were ever to watch one flow through water, you would be mesmerized, even finding them beautiful and intriguing.
One of the most beautiful species is the purple jellyfish, which can only be found on the California coastline. The design and color associated with this jellyfish are simply gorgeous. When still young, the bell has a pink color and the tentacles are dark, usually burgundy or maroon, and very long. However, as the purple jellyfish matures, so does the body.
Once the purple jellyfish reaches what we would consider teenage years, frilly oral arms begin to develop, which are quite a sight to see since they are quite long. However, in adulthood is when this jellyfish changes. At adulthood, the purple jellyfish features beautiful purple stripes that appear along the bell. In addition, the color once seen in the tentacles begins to disappear, as do the oral arms. Even the density of the tentacles thickens.
Throughout the different phases of life for the purple jellyfish, many changes occur. However, when the purple strips appear, the jellyfish becomes dramatic and impressive. The body is almost transparent, resembling gelatin. Since the bell of the purple jellyfish is filled with water, it can be extremely heavy, weighing hundreds of pounds. In fact, close to 98% of the body is water. While all jellyfish, especially the purple jellyfish put on a show beneath the water, when they wash to shore, they die very quickly in that they cannot live outside of water.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jellyfish Reproduction, But Were Afraid to Ask
Have you ever wondered about jellyfish reproduction? The birds do it; the bees do it; and, of course, the jellyfish do it as well. But how do they do it?
If you’ve ever looked at a jellyfish you know that it’s not altogether clear how such a creature would reproduce. They don’t have the usual set of reproductive organs. They don’t even have backbones! These creatures work in ways that are far different from us. So how does jellyfish reproduction work?
Well, what you will find is that the Jellyfish has one of the strongest reproductive cycles around. Let’s get started.
Do jellyfish have genders? Are there boy and girl jellyfish?
That’s a good question, after all, there don’t seem to be any male or female sex organs hanging from the jellyfish’s semitransparent bodies. Jellyfish do, however, have distinct sexes. That is, the male jellyfish does produce sperm and female eggs.
How does jellyfish sex work?
Here’s where jellyfish reproduction starts to get strange. The sperm and eggs are stored in the jellyfish’s tummy. Then when the time is right and the male jellyfish sense females around they spit out their sperm forming a cloud of sperm. These sperm swim into the mouth of the female jellyfish allowing their eggs to be fertilized there.
And then they have little jellyfish babies?
No. The females spit out the fertilized eggs that now develop into what scientists call planula.
Planula? What is planula?
Planula is these little creatures that look a little bit like fleshy light bulb-shaped balloons, with little waving cilia, and hair-like legs, that make them resemble caterpillars. A hole opens on top of these little guys and they float to the bottom of the ocean where they seek out a place to strategically lodge themselves for the next phase of transformation.
So this is when they become jellyfish?
No, not yet. While attached they transform into polyps and then reproduce asexually creating more polyps and growing until they become strobila. While they are polyps, they look like vases attached to the ocean floor. As they transform into strobila, they slowly grow stringy extensions, like tiny tentacles. They sit on the bottom of the ocean eating and growing, in a similar way to anemones.
How long does that take? A few weeks?
Years sometimes. They will just sit there and sit there, like a caterpillar in its cocoon waiting for the moment when it will release and float up into the ocean. Just before they begin to release like this they develop stratified rings around its cone-like surface.
And that’s when it becomes a jellyfish?
Nope. The rings that developed become more pronounced and begin to break off. This intermediate creature is an ephyra. In this phase, it still looks a little like a jelly starfish. But as it grows in the ocean, it evolves into its fully mature form.
This fully mature phase is called the medusa, like the Greek mythological figure that turned people to stone. It has a diaphanous dome and a spongy-looking interior with a floating bouquet of tentacles that trail it and help propel it through the water.
These beautiful creatures are one of the most soothing to watch as they gently float and hover in the ocean water. Their movements are so graceful it is hard to believe they are even real. Given how peaceful they look it’s surprising how much change they have undergone to acquire this serene state. So that’s the quirky world of jellyfish reproduction. And you thought your cousin had a strange sex life.
Some Interesting Facts about the Medusa Jellyfish
The medusa jellyfish is the final, adult jellyfish and the most well-known and recognizable one of the species. In the marine world, jellyfish are one of the most beautiful creatures with all of their peculiar colors and designs they have a whimsical look to them. As simple as they look underwater, they have a very complex lifecycle. There are four cycles in a jellyfish’s life planula, polyp, ephyra, and medusa.
The medusa jellyfish is known as the fully developed, bell-shaped creature with thick arms that hang alongside its mouth and tentacles all over the margins of its body. It has a stomach and gut in a very small stomach cavity on the underneath part of the bell. The inner layer of the medusa jellyfish is formed with a mesogea gelatin substance. The gonads are developed during this stage of life and are visual through their translucent bodies.
The jellyfish before this period in its life, started as a very tiny embryo. The embryo transforms into what is called a swimming planula and remains at this stage for a few days where it floats to the surface and rides the current of the water for a while. After it floats for a bit, it finally sinks in the water and then enters the polyp stage.
During this part of the jellyfish’s life, it sticks itself to a hard surface and several of them use feeding tubes among them to ensure they’re all receiving equal nutrients. This stage can last for many years and the colony can grow quite large. The polyps start eventually developing horizontal grooves. As the groove matures they are set free, leave the colony, and turn into a medusa jellyfish. They only can reproduce once when they reach this stage in their life.
Medusa jellyfish were first discovered about 650 million years ago. They are found in every ocean and can even survive in fresh water. A group of jellyfish is called a swarm and sometimes a bloom and can be extremely intimidating of course dangerous to encounter. They do not have a respiratory system because their skin is so thin that their bodies are oxygenated by diffusion. They don’t have brains but instead, function by using a network of nerves. The medusa jellyfish is made up of over 90% water and not only can they be fascinating patterns and vibrant colors, but they can also be much larger than most people realize.
The box jellyfish has venom that makes it the absolute most deadly creature in the entire animal kingdom. Since 1954 almost 6,000 deaths have been recorded due to contact with them. The tentacles have harpoon-style needles that are used to inject venom. The largest medusa jellyfish is the lion’s mane. It is one of the longest animals with the bell having a diameter of almost 8 feet and the tentacles can reach 120 feet.
Medusa jellyfish are labeled as carnivores. They are essentially drifters that feed off of small fish or traces of dead animals floating in the water. They also consume traces of zooplankton that becomes caught in their tentacles. There are over 200 species of jellyfish and each one is more mysterious looking than the last. If you are ever stung by a jellyfish you must remove the tentacles immediately. The venom can only reach your skin through the needles. The stings from a medusa jellyfish can cause you to collapse or go into shock and often are the cause of death.
The Most Deadly Of All Creatures On The Planet: The Poisonous Jellyfish
When a poisonous jellyfish attacked a young girl in Queensland, Australia she thought she had gone blind, and, lucky for her she immediately fell unconscious. Had she not, she would have endured the excruciating experience of a box jellyfish attack. It is described as horribly intense pain, like a knife cutting into the entire surface of your body, but 10 times worse.
Her parents were scared to death and had to perform CPR while waiting for medical help. She did not revive until 2 days later in the hospital. The 10-year-old girl did survive, but if there had not been some vinegar on hand to treat her wounds, she would have died. She had dark-colored patches of raw-looking flesh over one entire leg and part of the other. The lovely little girl left the hospital on crutches with her entire leg wrapped in a cast.
Because of warming water temperatures spurred by global climate change, the season these killers are in proximity to humans has extended – it used to be 1.5 months of the year, but now it is about 5 months. And they are slowly drifting farther south. Scientists say if the temperature drops by another 1/2 degree they will be a threat to swimmers along the heavily populated beaches of the Gold Coast.
In that same summer of 2009 in Australia, fifty people were treated in the hospital for attacks by the box jellyfish, or the smaller poisonous jellyfish, the Irukandji. This creature is no larger than a peanut, but it killed 2 people in 2002.
Another publicized 2009 attack befell a young man working at his dream job, being paid to live on Hamilton Island, and blogging for the tourism industry. His attacker was the Irukandji. He described the attack as like a bee sting on his arm, followed by tingling in his hands and feet. The unfortunate guy was taken to the hospital where he experienced tightness in the chest, a rise in blood pressure and fever, backache, and headache. He felt lucky that he survived, but he had to rethink the benefits of his previously blissful way of making a living.
Also in 2009, a scuba diver suffered egregious injuries after an encounter with a jellyfish, even though he had on protective diver’s gear. Back in 2006 after another young girl was killed, also in Queensland, a spokesperson for Surf Life Saving indicated that people can protect themselves from these killers by swimming within stinging enclosures and wearing protective skin diving suits. So much for that theory. Not only did the suit fail to protect the man, but also the smaller Irukandji get through nets because it’s so tiny.
Some advice, if you go sunbathing in Australia, stick to sunbathing. The fish’s poison is such a cruel way to die, that actor Will Smith in the movie Seven Pounds, used its venom to kill himself, feeling that he deserved the ultimate punishment because he had caused several deaths in a car accident. He placed his pet box jellyfish in his bathtub, climbed in, and was immediately deceased.
Information About the Comb Jellyfish
Comb jellyfish, despite the name, are not jellyfish at all. Jellyfish are a part of the Cnidaria family, while comb jellyfish are part of the Ctenophora, in Greek, this means comb bearer. Jellyfish are well known around the world, but comb jellyfish are not as well known. One reason that people are more likely to know about the jellyfish, is that it has a stinger, and many people are stung while swimming in the ocean each year. Comb jellyfish, however, do not have a stinger.
In other ways, there are similarities between the jellyfish and the comb jellyfish. They are both translucent invertebrates, and they both are generally free-floating in the ocean. Comb jellyfish do have some brilliant colors, generally, there are eight “stripes” of bright color. These colors are along the comb rows. Eight comb rows extend from the end of the comb jellyfish that is opposite its mouth.
The comb rows are used to vibrate the water which can then propel and steer the jelly. More importantly, the comb rows create a current that forces water and food continuously into its mouth. The comb rows will also glow a very soft green color if the jelly is disturbed at night. These fish are multi-cellular animal that does have some internal organs. They have an internal cavity, a mouth, and anal pores. Most types of comb jellyfish usually only grow to about four inches in size, much like a large orange.
They are difficult to study because their bodies will break apart if they are taken out of the water. That is one reason why little is known about them. Despite their ability to thrive, they are very sensitive to chemicals in the water. This sensitivity is vital to the fish’s ability to find food, but it does make the fish susceptible to environmental hazards.
This invertebrate prefers open waters, just like the jellyfish, and during rough seas, it will tend to seek out deeper, calm water. It used to be found mainly in the North Atlantic Ocean, and bays on the eastern seaboard, but it has now densely populated the Black Sea and has also been found in the Baltic and Caspian Seas, where they are also expected to become numerous.
The fish was transferred to the Black Sea in ship ballast water. Ships use water loads to provide stability and balance when they are carrying low levels of cargo. When cargo is picked up at ports, the ships dump their ballast water. In this way, over ten billion tons of water are moved from port to port around the world every year.
In 1982, comb jellyfish were transferred from America to the Black Sea by ships dumping water in that region. The story from there is a classic tale of invasive species taking over the habitat of native species and damaging the environment. These fish are voracious predators and are carnivorous. They eat plankton, larvae, crustaceans, and even small fish. They have even been known to eat other species of comb jellyfish that are smaller in size.
They nearly decimated the Black Sea commercial fisheries business as they left local native fish and seafood without a food source. They have also reduced the oxygen levels in the Black Sea, which further has damaged other indigenous fish populations. Seafood, anchovy, and even dolphin numbers have been dramatically reduced since the introduction of comb jellyfish to the area. By 1995, over 90 percent of the biomass of the Black Sea was made up of comb jellyfish. The story for the Caspian and Baltic Seas appears to be much the same.
Jellyfish Facts – Both Friend And Foe
It’s not too difficult to compile a list of interesting jellyfish facts as the jellyfish is certainly one of the more interesting creatures one can come upon. Jellyfish can be quite large or quite small, beautiful to behold, blob-like in appearance, or transparent to the point of being invisible. Jellyfish can be harmless to humans, most of them are, but some can be deadly.
It seems like most jellyfish facts cited relate to the tentacles and how those tentacles should be avoided. Certainly, it isn’t advisable to touch one, unless you know your jellyfish. Even the semi-transparent ones that look like small umbrellas can sometimes give a nasty sting, though most are harmless. All jellyfish sting, that’s how they survive, by paralyzing their prey. If their prey is plankton, chances are their sting would not be noticeable to a human. If their prey is fish, especially decent-sized fish, the toxicity in their tentacles could be quite potent.
Bad Guys – Even dead jellyfish can pack a punch when it comes to toxins in their tentacles. The toxin doesn’t disappear immediately upon the jellyfish’s death. Walk along a beach in Hawaii at certain times of the year and you may spot several Portuguese Man-O-War species which have washed up on the sand.
They may be only an inch or two in diameter, with tentacles a bit longer, but step on one with bare feet and you’ll know it! The deadliest jellyfish is the Box Jellyfish, also known as the Sea Wasp. Waders and swimmers in Australia have to watch out for this one as its sting can be lethal. A variety of the Sea Wasp frequents Hawaiian waters as well, but is less toxic than its Australian cousin and its sting is seldom lethal. Highly toxic jellyfish create problems in the fishing industry when captured in nets together with fish. The nets not only become fouled with toxic tentacles and may become useless, but the fish that are caught can become toxic as well and often have to be discarded.
Jellyfish Benefits – Despite all the scare stories, there are a few jellyfish facts relating to some of the benefits these creatures provide. In some parts of the world, over-fishing has reduced the population of jellyfish predators, causing the jellyfish population to explode. While more and more jellyfish may not be considered a good thing by many, the increasing population serves a purpose. In this respect, the jellyfish plays a role similar to that of the canary in the coal mine. When there are toxic gases in the coal mine, the canary stops singing, when fisheries are being depleted or the local marine ecosystem is otherwise being damaged, the jellyfish population often explodes.
Glowing Protein – Another benefit the jellyfish has provided is found in the field of medical science. Some species of jellyfish glow in the dark. This ability has been traced to the presence of a fluorescent protein containing a gene that can be switched on and off. Medical scientists have been able to make use of this protein and its gene-controlled flashing ability, to trace the path of certain hormones through the human body.
This work is helping to gain a better understanding of certain types of arthritis, and in addition, has in some instances improved our knowledge of the workings of the autoimmune system. The jellyfish gene in a sense plays a role similar to a radioactive isotope in tracking certain bodily functions and mechanisms.
If It Quacks – There are other jellyfish facts that, if nothing else are just plain interesting. Jellyfish species range in size from less than an inch in diameter to up to several feet, with tentacles anywhere from a fraction of an inch long at one extreme, to 100 feet long at the other. There is even a freshwater jellyfish.
There isn’t. As the saying goes, “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck”. The freshwater jellyfish looks and acts (not quacks) like the saltwater version, but isn’t a true jellyfish. Jellyfish will probably always draw our attention. Watching them is something like watching the fire. “Mesmerized” is probably the word that best applies.
Lions Mane Jellyfish
All About the Lions Mane Jellyfish
Lions Mane Jellyfish are truly captivating creatures. They are the largest jellyfish species found in the oceans, they can travel thousands of miles without swimming, and have an integral role as both predators and prey. Also known as Cyanea papillate, the Lions Mane jellyfish has been roaming the oceans for 650 million years. They are a simple but perfect design of nature and possess several key survival features.
Found in colder waters of the Arctic Circle, the Atlantic, and the North Pacific, this jelly species hovers around the pelagic zone, a middle zone of water near the surface. Their bodies consist of 95% water and they have no brain. The main portion of the jelly’s body, called the bell consists of eight lobes and is surrounded by eight clusters of tentacles. The tentacles provide the jellyfish as a means of protection and as a way to catch food. Each of the eight clusters contains around 65-150 tentacles covered with extremely sticky cells.
A Lions Mane may have over 1000 tentacles on its body, each containing millions of tiny stinging cells called nematocysts. The nematocysts pierce the body of the jelly’s prey or predator and inject toxins. Once the toxins have paralyzed the prey, the jelly can bring the meal to its mouth. The diet of a Lions Mane Jellyfish consists mainly of tiny fish called zooplankton, specifically protozoan and metazoans, as well as tiny comb jellyfish called ctenophores. As the jellyfish floats along it uses its long tentacles to sting and paralyze unsuspecting prey that ventures into reach.
These jellyfish also serve as prey species for many other ocean creatures. Seabirds, other jellyfish, large fish, and sea turtles will all consume jellyfish; sea turtles seem to have a natural defense against their toxins. Other ocean species use the floating jellyfish as protection from other predators. Some types of shrimp, medusa fish, and juvenile prow fish will often hide underneath a Lions Mane Jellyfish, taking advantage of the tentacles for protection.
Lions Mane jellyfish vary in size and color. One of the largest ever discovered measured 8 feet wide in the bell section, and had over 100ft long tentacles. They are tiny when born and can range anywhere between these sizes. They can also be a dark purple to red color, or even tan or pink. They can swim slightly but mostly rely on ocean currents, tides, and winds to carry them vast distances in search of food. In this manner, some jellyfish can travel thousands of miles.
Lions Mane Jellyfish can reproduce in two ways, both sexually and asexually, helping them to survive as a species over millions of years. There are four stages to a jellyfish’s lifetime, which can last typically for about one year, a larval stage, a polyp stage, an ephyrae stage, and the medusa stage. Female jellyfish will keep their eggs safe by holding them around their mouth until after fertilization when they move to the protection of the tentacles.
It is here that they grow into larvae. Once they have reached this stage they will be deposited onto a hard surface to become polyps. These creatures resemble small anemones. Here they begin to reproduce asexually; creating tall stacks of individual creatures now called phrases, but still do not possess arms or tentacles. Once each ephrae breaks off of the stack it has reached the medusa or adult stage and now resembles a typical adult jellyfish. Lions Mane Jellyfish stings are toxic to human tissue, as anyone who has ever had an encounter with one will tell you. While these stings are not usually fatal, the nematocysts on each tentacle inject enough toxins into human tissues to cause blisters, redness, skin irritation, and muscle cramps.
The best medications to stop the painful stinging sensations are vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or meat tenderizers, as they contain substances that neutralize the toxins. Water, especially cool water will release more toxins into the bloodstream and will make the stinging worse. It is best to avoid contact with jellyfish if possible, even those found washed up on the beach. The tentacles still can sting even after the jellyfish had died. Lions Mane jellyfish are truly fascinating creatures and play an important role in the life cycle chain of the ocean. Their continued existence is vital for preserving the natural balance of the oceans.
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