My Gelatinous Friends

As spring slides into summer, my thoughts turn to jellyfish; don’t yours? I find these undulating sea creatures so fascinating with long tendrils trailing behind their gelatinous bodies. They are the ballerinas of the deep while dancing through the ocean current.  Skeletonless, they are original shapeshifters. When confronting an enemy, the dance transforms into a rager as if a DJ has dropped a track.

Jellyfish reproduce sexually and asexually which must be very convenient.

Appearances can be deceiving. Although they seem defenseless, some sting like a bee leaving an unsuspecting surfer cussing out in vain. “Dude! That is like so uncool!” Some beaches keep bottles of vinegar on hand to neutralize the barbs or nematocysts. You see, vinegar has all kinds of uses. If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, have a friend urinate on you.

The box jellyfish is so venomous that any contact with their tentacles can be fatal. Each tentacle can wrap around the soft skin of a swimmer and can have up to 500,000 barbs that shoot venom like a harpoon. If you do come in contact with a box jellyfish, call 911 and get the anti-venom immediately. It is the most fatal creature on earth and the only one with 24 eyes and a 360 degree view.

Now I know why some swimming areas use net enclosures. I thought they kept the swimmers in, but they keep the stinging jellyfish out. That is a very good thing!

Jellyfish are neither jelly nor fish.

Jellyfish go with the flow literally as well as figuratively. They are the original surfers, hitching rides on currents that can take them 100’s of miles down the coastline. They can propel themselves by opening and shutting their umbrella-like body. Some may go too far and find themselves rushing out into the depths. “Dang! I meant to get off in Baja.”

Some jellyfish may be seduced by warmer waters and find themselves sucked into tidal pools. When the tide goes out their 95% water-filled body dries in the sun. Soon they resemble a silicone breast implant discarded on the beach.

They have an alien appearance much like a flying saucer space ship or the 1976 Boston album cover. Maybe they are aliens! If that is true, then Martians must have come here bazillions of years ago since scientists think they were Earth’s first sea creatures.

The largest species is the lion’s mane jellyfish growing to an amazing 120 feet. You could get lost in its tentacles and would need gallons of vinegar! The smallest is speck-sized at .5 mm.

Jellyfish are carnivores, ingesting and “voiding” through the same hole. TMI!

They do have natural predators such as sharks, tuna, seagulls and man. In Japan, jellyfish is a delicacy. They export it dried, to many other countries. I wonder if I could pick up a can from Whole Foods.

Sometimes jellies (as I fondly call them), congregate in huge blooms or a smack. You want to avoid them at all costs or you will be smacked as they try to snack.

I love jellyfish and could gaze at them for hours from a safe distance in an aquarium. They seem to have an unearthly glow with light that radiates from within. They illuminate the space around them like an oceanic lava lamp. Turn on my video, tune in, and drop into the jellyfish counterculture!

My video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

All jellyfish photos  and video by Susie Lindau

Boston album photo by Wikipedia

What is your favorite sea creature?

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Filed under Humor, Life

105 responses to “My Gelatinous Friends

  1. When I saw your post on jellyfish I had to stop by. I never used to think of jellyfish when I thought of aquariums, usually large tanks with Nemo and sea turtles. But after our fist trip to The Aquarium of The Pacific … definitely jellyfish. It was an awesome experience as my son had a jellyfish encounter…it was too funny. :)

  2. i love jellyfish —- as sushi, and in chinese restaurants, cold -with sesame. but they are fascinating creatures. continue…

  3. I have an unnatural fascination with coral, especially the carnivorous kind. It’s like they’re both plant and animal, beautiful yet deadly :)

  4. Lobster of course… with lots of melted butter!

    This was a fun post… One of the world’s foremost Jellyfish experts lives on my island and is a good friend. She is affiliated with the Friday Harbor Labs of the U of W. I’ll have to share it with her.

    Nice to see Bicycle Susie in color this week!

  5. I guess it’s rather obvious that my favorite sea creature is a selkie! I love selkies b/c they are magical and mysterious and long to return to the sea no matter how strong the love is that is holding them on land. But… as for jellyfish… I took sailing lessons as a child and spent most of the time capsizing into jelly-filled waters as I wasn’t particularly good at the art of threading ropes and catching wind in a sheet. Needless to say, I prefer to sail on big boats now, as a passenger, with a cocktail and virtually 0% chance of capsizing. Take THAT jellies!

  6. Hey crazy YouTube lady…thanks for dancing across my blog-lawn when you did. Here’s a vid in honor of that nickname of yours.

    • Wow! Thanks! That takes me back a few years. I saw him perform at Red Rocks before he died.
      I had to redo my video since I think the music was full of spam hence I was in spam until today. Yahoo! Free at last!

  7. Interesting and pleasant-to-read article. Too bad you couldn’t get the Beatles to sing the Because song.

  8. Jellyfish are indeed pretty cool. I’ve just consulted the quick education site’s page on them, and they have a weird-ass life cycle. Also, they have no brain or nervous system, yet they’ve been around for 500 or possible even 700 million years! That sure puts us know-it-all uppity primates in our place.

    Still, in our defense, we have at least produced funky robotic versions of our aquatic friends.

  9. suzie

    Great post. I did some Art Jellyfish with satin and long strands of lace on elastic strings. I remember them as Man o’ War jellyfish in Hawaii with long tendrils and purple! In Alaska on our beach they washed up by the dozens at times and were so big and beautiful. I love jellyfish.

  10. Noel Tendick

    Dude! I did not even know about the Lion’s Mane jellyfish, incredible! Fascinating creatures those jellies. I’ve gotten my share of stings, but I still love ‘em, bless the little (or gigantic) guys. Great photos.

    • Thanks Noel!
      They are totally cool creatures.
      This is the only place that I can leave a comment! All of mine are going into blogger’s spam files. :( Trying to clear it up, but in the mean time, I would check your spam and see if any of your friends ended up in there!

  11. Jellyfish make great videos that don’t sting! Thanks for the throwback of the days of planula larva to polyp to ephyra to medusa.

  12. “Ballerinas of the deep . . ” I like that. And I’m gonna make sure I take a bottle of vinegar along next time I hit the beach, since option B just doesn’t appeal to me in the least.

  13. Oh My Your mentioning of Shapeshifters – you and your Husband HAVE to be FRINGE watchers! Right?
    I believe i got a stung once many many years ago off the coast of Florida. IT stung bad.
    BTW I believe you can still buy stylus for your record player.

    Great post — it sure elicited a “boat load” of comments! GRIN
    Nuff Said that.

    • I have watched Fringe! You got me!
      I will have to pick up a stylus and rock out to ELO, Oingo Boingo and Boston! Thanks!
      Glad you stopped by. Thanks so much Air cooled!

      • I prefer Our Olivia to the Olivia on the other side..I didn’t know Anna Torv has a twin sister. IT seems all of the actors have twins. Now that is a fringe event if I ever saw one. Wink WInk

        • I will have to tune in and catch up! That is crazy. I always thought it would be fun to be a twin and with all the in vitro inseminations, there have got to be “boatloads” of them!
          Thanks Air Cooled!

  14. Absolutely hilarious, SL :D Haven’t laughed as hard as I just did in quite a while! thank you for that :)

  15. Harriet

    I just got stung by them few days ago!
    nice article :)

  16. What an enlightening post for a certified landlubber that until I read this could barely distinguish a sea faring jellyfish from the jar of Welch’s grape jelly in my sister’s fridge — but the purple color and smell might help me decide who’s who or what’s what. Hm, jellyfish are both sexual and asexual. Sounds rather convenient!

    • It must be very convenient to be able to reproduce like that, especially if you get lonely and want some family members! Thanks Lameadventures! I am certifiable too!

  17. I am a fan of the Atlanta Aquarium, and love seeing the jelly fish on display there. I have taken a few shots of them each time I visit.

  18. While teaching, I showed an older video about “Deadly Down Under” and it featured the Box Jellyfish. I also watched the movie with Will Smith (Seven Pounds) with the jellyfish. Amazing creatures.

    • I haven’t seen the Will Smith movie, but I will now!
      The box jellyfish is nothing to tangle with. I watched a couple of people interviewed that got the anti-venom in time. They couldn’t breathe!
      Thanks so much Kindred Spirit!

  19. Hi Susie. I just hate them, skulking around and then bang! Urrrgggghhhh.


  20. Yes that eerie glow and light. Often Portuguese man o war cover shores Miami Beach . The bane of little children.

  21. I love sea turtles, dolphins and colorful tropical fishies:)

  22. I totally agree they’re fascinating – and I thought so even before I knew they ingested and voided from the same place, LOL!

    When Peppermeister and I honeymooned in Australia, they had these stands by the shore that said “FOR EMERGENCY USE” (like you’d see around an axe or fire extinguisher) – and it was just a bottle of vinegar! Ha!

    • I would not have known except for a video I watched and the research I did for this post! Australia seems to be the worst for menacing creatures…
      Thanks Jules!

  23. I like the post. I don’t like Jellyfish though!! ;)

  24. So is there a jellyfish version of “More Than A Feeling” ?

  25. Hi,
    Oh yes the box jellyfish is very well known in OZ, and many a tourists have been badly stung. Luckily the box jellyfish are mainly in North Queensland, it is rare to see them further south.
    The standard jellyfish is everywhere though. :)

    • Oz can be a scary place filled with all kinds of crazy lethal creatures! I would love to visit someday!
      I am glad to hear that the box stays away from most of the highly populated beaches.
      Thanks Mags!

  26. Very sad when they wash up on the beach, but fascinating to watch in their element.
    Impressive post! How long did the research take you for this?

    • They are wild looking!
      I spent a few hours yesterday reading and watching videos after I realized that my first idea, a conversation between Jacques Cousteau and a surfer dude was going to take way too much time! It would have been funny though. Maybe they will meet up some other time! :)
      Thanks for reading!

  27. My uncle once got stung by one and yes, I had no vinegar at hand. Cool stuff! I’ve always been partial to the Barracuda fish myself. Very fierce little buggers.

    • Love the word Fierce! That they are! Sorry about your uncle. Ouch!
      It is amazing that such beautiful creatures have developed such nasty ways to defend themselves as they just floats along…..
      Thanks for reading Heather!

  28. I know that in the Pacific there is a species of gigantic jellyfish. They look beautiful and can grow up to 6 feet in diameter. I don’t know if they are poisonous or not. However, I like snorkeling, and I’ve seen many jellyfish and other tropical fish. I once saw a barracuda and I was terrified, thank God she saw me and swam away, fast! She was around 8 feet long, not kidding!

    • Oh my God! I know that the most dangerous jellyfish is pretty clear and white. I would keep my distance even if some don’t sting…. Be careful out there!

  29. I don’t like Jelly & I spare fish in my diet. And still like jelly fish for their ornate display (most of their spices). I know they are dangerous (side effect of attraction!) and enjoy them at a distance :)
    My favorite sea creature is mermaid want to meet one, one of days. If I have pick one visible with normal senses, I’d go with marine mammals. May be bit bias for my tribe.

  30. I had a horrible jellyfish sting. It wrapped around both of my ankles (it had massively long tentacles). I never want to go through that again. Good article about them, although I really don’t want to be too close to them anytime soon!

    • It was most likely a Lion’s Mane jellyfish. They have the longest. It sounds terribly painful! That is why I prefer to watch them through the glass of aquariums as well. :)
      Thanks so much Jean!

  31. They can be very pretty when they reflect off the water, but DAMN they hurt! I prefer to observe them in a nice confined aquarium, thank you.

  32. I love the photos and the video is wild… you, I guess??

  33. So there are no grape jellyfish, and they don’t have any affinity for peanut butter?

  34. Ho can something so beautiful be so nasty?
    Cool though.. I don;t do water so no chance there.:)

  35. lynnkelleyauthor

    Wow, this post is so interesting. I didn’t know that about the box jellyfish. Your photos are gorgeous, and that video – awesome! Well done!. Like I said, you can write about anything and make it humorous and entertaining. Ultra cool post, Susie!

  36. lovely post, Susie. We just got some little jellyfish in at our local pet store and my granddaughter is fascinated. i must say, they are beautiful. thanks for an interesting start to Tuesday. and yes, I did remember to unclick the comment follow up box.

    • Thanks so much Louise!
      Awesome! I bet she loves watching them. I wonder how the fresh water kind would get along with my goldfish…..

      I think I just disabled my comment follow up box so no one else will get the extra email from my blog anyway!

  37. Coleen Patrick

    I’ve been stung by jellyfish–not pleasant. I remember after a friend got stung she poured a bottle of italian dressing on her leg. :)

  38. Susie, i have a theory that one day Jellyfish will save the earth. Nobody beleives me but just remember, you read it hear first! (Now I have to untick the comments follow up box!)

  39. You truly are one in a million, Susie!
    Great, unique – not to mention fun – post!

  40. OMG I am never every goiing to eat Jellyfish( not that i had any plans) but a creature with same entry and exit hole… is not going to be on my plate..I am a hardcore carnivore but there is a limit…
    what an interesting topic and write up Susie, have to give it to come up with most interesting topics for your posts :)
    loved the images :)
    hugs :)

  41. Jellies are so odd. We used to watch them fro piers during their yearly mass migrations – sometimes miles of floating cantaloupe-style just wondered what they were all talking about among themselves

  42. I bet you go diving don’t you, you exciting woman you ;) My sister goes diving and skis and canoes and all sorts. She’s doing a quadrathlon soon in Scotland and I hope to see her at the finish line since we’ll be over there. You two would get along fantastic! Those jellyfish have a beautiful colour despite being deadly.

  43. How fun. Last year I took tons of jelly fish photos in Florida. It was February, and a huge number has washed ashore on South Beach. I found them fascinating to look at–especially the way the light glinted off of them. So many jelly fish meant I didn’t go into the water, but the photos were cool. Thanks for sharing this information and images. I learned a LOT!

    • Thanks Kathy! So did I! They are amazing creatures. I never knew why there were nets on beaches and now I will make sure that I stay inside the enclosure!

  44. I do not like jellyfish. Having been stung by them on numerous occasions they are officially off my friend’s list. They are cute and fun to watch ~ when they’re in tanks at the aquarium. When they’re in the ocean right next to me? Not so much.

    I didn’t know that about their eating and pooping ~ TMI for sure, but fascinating as well. I’ll have to make that my favorite thing to share with everyone I see today. ;)

    • They are pretty crazy! -asexual and sexual too! I think I may have gotten stung by a little one once. I would be hard pressed to swim in Australia where there seems to be tons of those killer jellyfish!
      Thanks Tameri!

  45. Good essay on on jellyfish and coelenterates – Many years ago my ship anchored in Nha Trang harbor, Vietnam.
    Water was crystal clear from the surface to to the extent of visibility there was a near solid mass of silvery jellyfish.

    • Thanks Rich! I love covcxkvjOjfdklmemrates too! That must have been amazing to see a swarm like that. I really didn’t know much about them before I wrote this yesterday, so I have a new respect for my gelatinous friends!

  46. EllieAnn

    These are my FAVORITES! Ever since I saw a huge, mesmerizing swarm of them in a Japanese Aquarium, I’ve been entranced. I loved this post!

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