“Scary, squishy, cool, brainless, mesmerizing – jellyfish are all of these and a lot more,” writes Elizabeth Kolbert as she describes the amazing diversity and beauty of jellyfish in the Oct. 2018 issue of National Geographic. For anyone that has ever been entranced by the graceful, pulsating movement of jellyfish then this Nat. Geo article is not to be missed.
World Jellyfish Day
Apparently, someone truly enamored with jellyfish even came up with World Jellyfish Day, celebrated annually on Nov. 3.
But before lifting the bubbly to celebrate World Jellyfish Day, let’s start with a few jellyfish facts. First, jellyfish are actually not fish. They have no bones. T,hey are invertebrates. Jellyfish not only lack bones they have no brains or central nervous system. T,hey use their tentacles to sting their prey, usually plankton.
Some jellyfish are tiny like the ¼” sea fur (Obelia sp.), ranging up to the Lion’s Mane (Cyanea capillata) that trails tentacles 120 feet in length. The enormous Nomura jellyfish can measure 6 feet across and weigh up to 450lbs.
A Swarm, Bloom or Smack
When jellyfish get together to do whatever jellyfish do, this congregation is called a swarm, a bloom, or a smack. So, the next time you encounter a “smack” of jellyfish be careful of the tentacles. That goes double for the sea wasp (Chironex fleckeri), a box jellyfish who’s 12-inch tentacles are highly venomous, capable of killing a human in under five minutes.
Any swimmer or diver that has been stung by a Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis) will long remember that painful encounter. And they may be forgiven for mistaking their attacker for a jellyfish. Although it looks like a jellyfish, the Man O’ War is not a true jellyfish; it’s a siphonophore, not that this lessens the sting in any way. Portuguese Man O’ War is known as Blue Bottle Jellyfish in Australia.
A Deadly Case of Misidentification
Humans are not the only ones that misidentify jellyfish. Many of their predators including tuna, sharks and turtles mistake plastic waste for jellyfish. As an article in OneGreenPlanet shows, this is not hard to do and is having disastrous repercussions for marine life.
Jellyfish make up almost the entire diet of some sea turtles, especially the leatherback. Now many of these majestic turtles are found dead, washed ashore, their stomachs bloated with plastic bags.
One more very important reason for outlawing plastic bags, straws and other single-use plastic products before they can contaminate the ocean.
See these Related Blue Ocean Articles:
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!