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?

107 thoughts on “My Gelatinous Friends

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  1. 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.

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    1. 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!

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  2. 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!

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    1. 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!

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  3. 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.

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    1. 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!

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        1. 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!

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  4. “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.

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  5. 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.

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    1. 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!

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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    1. Seriously! I love the movie Across the Universe and that scene is under water.
      I had to redo the music and pulled Because, because it spammed my site!
      Thanks for stopping by Bumba!

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    1. 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!

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  8. 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!

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  9. 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!

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