Tuesday 12 April 2011

J is for Jellyfish – that’s what J is for ...

Pelagia noctiluca medusa near Sicily in the 
western Mediterranean Sea. (Pearl Jelly)

Our land continues into our local seawaters where jellyfish abound as in all oceans and seas.  They are neither vertebrates, let alone true fish, the usual word is considered by some to be a misnomer.

They are primitive animals consisting of two bell-shaped layers of cells, one inside the other, separated by a thick layer of jelly.  Curtain like, their fringe of stinging tentacles hangs down – inside of which are usually four longer ones surrounding the mouth conveying plankton, fish or shrimps to it – after they have been stunned by the stings.

Jellyfish are unisexual and shed eggs or sperm into the sea where fertilisation takes place; each fertilised egg develops into a larva, which settles on weeds or stones to become a polyp: this then buds off  many small jellyfish.

The coloured parts of the jellyfish can be either light-sensitive pigment spots, which keep their upper side to the surface – or indicate the reproductive organs.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

The largest part of the animal is jelly made up almost entirely of water, so that jellyfish soon dry out and disintegrate if stranded on beaches.

There are about 14 species of large jellyfish living in British waters ... the Portuguese Man of War being the largest, which does come into our southern waters and can cause burning pain, nausea and muscular paralysis: occasionally these ‘attacks’ are fatal.

Four of our most common ones are:

  • the Moon jellyfish, marked with four pale purple crescents ... and is 3 – 8 inches across;
  • the Compass jellyfish so called because of its 24 brown points on its white bell and this may be 18 inches in diameter;
  • the smaller toadstool shaped pearl jellyfish is strongly phosphorescent and glows if disturbed at night;
  • Lion's Mane, which can be up to 36 inches across
Moon Jellyfish

I remember being stung on the beaches around Bexhill-on-Sea in the 1950s  ... screaming blue murder, being taken back to my grandmother – who doused me in witch-hazel .. screamed even more .. and I guess eventually quietened down .. and then probably demanded to go back to the beach – to repeat the process!!

That is Jellyfish - that is what J is for ..    

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



I bet that was awful being stung by a jelly fish. wonderful post about a not so attractive feature of the sea.


Anonymous said...

I saw some jellyfish in the water in Scotland. They are fascinating. :O)

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

I was stung once, and thank God it wasn't as bad as your experience, but the burning pain is nothing I want to feel again. It ruined my vacation as I refused to go back to the beach... lol


Bluestocking Mum said...

How horrible! I'd hate to be stung by jellyfish. That's the reason I never go snorkelling.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. thanks - it was horrendous and I did yell!! There's a lot to jellyfish .. I might come back here sometime!!

@ Madeleine .. they are certainly around .. and sweep in with the warmer seas.

@ Doris .. I was a kid - when I yelled hell and begone .. also Granny too was pretty terrifying!!

They do hurt don't they! I'd have steered clear of the beach too .. perhaps that's why there's pools everywhere, as well as the sea - always seemed slightly incongruous to me.

@ Bluestocking Mum .. you're so right .. but even paddling and this is what we were doing we were still stung .. and if we walked on the tentacles on the beach - we'd get stung ..shoes on for the beach!

Thanks everyone - love your stinging comments!! Cheers - Hilary

Laura Eno said...

*shudder* I grew up by the beach and was always afraid of jellyfish! Very informative post!

Arts web show said...

Ouch, they can be a real pain. lol
Luckily i have never encountered one yet

Siv Maria said...

Oooo Jelly fish, good word for today! Beautiful to look at but it hurts when they sting you. Cure? pee on the affected area, or have someone else do it.....Not so charming is it?

TALON said...

Amazing creatures, but ones I have a healthy respect for!

Hope your mother is well, Hilary!

Dafeenah said...

Thanks for stopping by! I think jellyfish are such beautifully amazing creatures. Thanks for sharing such amazing info about them


Anonymous said...

Interesting post about Jellyfish. As I don't go to the beach, I don't feel I'm in any danger of getting stung by one. I never knew to use witch hazel on a jellyfish sting. Thanks for another very interesting post.

Tina L. Hook said...

I can remembering being stung too.

They are beautiful though.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Laura .. we just encountered them on holiday! Lucky you to be able to walk along the beach .. but I can understand the dread of coming into contact with one. Delighted - thanks.

@ Richard .. have you not cooked them in your ultra special restaurant? That could cause you a few odd camera shots ... and extra musical overtones?!!

@ Siv - are you sure pee on the sting .. how did you find that out? Definitely difficult to pee on one's own sting .. but someone else .. rather not - definitely Not So Charming! Good comment - thanks!

@ Talon .. yes me too - especially having read a little more about them.

Mum is 'resting' at the moment - ie had her wake day and then dozes and sleeps for a few days!! She's fine though - many thanks for asking.

@ Dafeenah - great to see you here - I hope your car's got sorted!

I agree the documentaries we see on jelly fish are truly amazing .. it was an interest subject to post on.

@ Susanne .. they seem to bypass Eastbourne .. because Beachy Head keeps them further in the ocean .. and the swells land them further east.

I have no idea whether witch-hazel is the thing to use, I read vinegar too .. but my grandmother used witch-hazel .. a 1950s/1960s remedy for all!! Did you see Siv's comment above re pee????!!!!

Glad you enjoyed it .. it's taken a turn I wasn't expecting!

@ Florida girl - not pleasant was it! But as you say they are just so beautiful - the naming of them is so obvious.

Delighted to see everyone - thanks for coming by - cheers Hilary

Patricia said...

Oh Hilary,
We used to collect the jellyfish from the beach and as we lay on inner tubes all day in the sound, just letting life and the day float by, we were often stung.

I swallowed one when swimming one time and it was smallish, and seemed to do no harm - just upset me in my mind thinking about it!

Another fun post and wealth of information
Thank you

Empty Nest Insider said...

Your posts are always so informative and well written. They are also the perfect length. I didn't realize there were so many species of jellyfish. Great pics too. Julie

Julie Musil said...

What a great subject for "J!" I think these creatures are beautiful. My husband has been stung twice in Mexico, so he likes them less than me :D

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patricia .. gosh .. maybe your stingers weren't as bad as ours .. they hurt - but I was a kid! Didn't your bum get stung .. lying on the inner tubes? Wonderful to think of just doing that now!! sans jellyfish for me though?!

Swallowed on .. must have been quite unpleasant for both of you!

Glad you enjoyed it .. always lovely seeing you here!

@ Julie .. many thanks really appreciate that you enjoy the posts .. this was a little long .. but obviously ok! I don't know how many species worldwide .. loads I suppose. The pics sort of make it don't they.

@ Julie .. thank you - I didn't think anyone else would do them. There's A LOT of jelly fish in Mexico .. that read was a little worrying .. see Wiki. Ah so your hubby would agree with me .. steer clear of them!

Thanks Patricia and Julies x 2 .. good to see you .. Hilary

The Writing Goddess said...

Hi Hilary, fellow A-Zr, here, and fellow blogger about jellyfish. Writing in Lofw

Although my post was more about jellyfish as writing metaphor. I do enjoy visiting these stunning (in more ways than one) creatures in the fabulous aquariums I'm lucky enough to live near.

Denise Covey said...

These little critters are exactly why I prefer swimming in a pool. They can really hurt.


L'Aussie Travel A-Z Challenge Posts J is for Japan

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Writing Goddess .. welcome ad I've popped over to say .. especially as you're commenting on a different aspect of jellyfish.

The are certainly beautiful creatures .. just not so pleasant being near the stingers.

@ L'Aussie .. you're right .. they sure did years ago .. a pool is a safer bet .. but beaches are glorious to be on!!

Cheers to both of you - Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jellyfish are so pretty! I always take photos of the critters when we visit our local aquarium.

Jerri said...

Luckily I've never been stung by one.

Mari said...

Hi Hilary - thanks for stopping by! I'm not doing the A-Z Challenge - I just do photo's of things that I'm struck by.
I didn't know there were so many jellyfish types - interesting!

Mason Canyon said...

An interesting post. I never realized there are so many different types of jellyfish.

Thoughts in Progress

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane .. ah! safely behind glass - I don't think I've seen them in an aquarium .. but they are beautiful and that would be an excellent way to see them close up and away from the stings.

@ Jerri .. lucky for you - and good to see you here

@ Mari .. I think I probably realised that - but your blog was recommended and I liked what I saw .. so stopped of to leave a comment - good to see you here though - thank you.

@ Mason .. those are just our British ones .. there must be many more worldwide. Delighted to see you here ..

Thanks everyone for coming by -enjoy Wednesday .. Hilary

Freestyle Poems said...

Interesting post, Hilary. I didn't know there were so many jellyfish types! I was stung once, really awful!
Take Care

Short Poems


Thanks for the comment, I think there is much "Kissing" going on on the challenge today.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marinela .. good to see you - and at least you appreciate their stings! Jellyfish are very interesting ..

@ Yvonne .. I have to get to the Kissing Blogs!! I may miss them til tomorrow .. glad I chose another K words - Kite!!

Thanks to you both - Hilary

Anonymous said...

I've never been stung by a jelly fish but seen people who have. Its not a pretty site. I was in Florida and saw jellyfish all over the beach one day. They are strange looking creatures for sure.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen .. lucky you! We used to get stung on the beach too .. so it was quite difficult to avoid their tentacles .. also transparent.

They are strange - but beautiful evolution! Cheers Hilary

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

By the J, they all have my respect!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Amy .. good comment .. jellyfish - I certainly won't get too near in future .. thanks Amy - enjoy this Friday .. Hilary

Trulyana said...

Beautiful facts about the jellyfish. I have noticed that there is a lot more of them ashore, especially in Portugal when last visited. I had never seen so many before, from different parts of the Atlantic ocean. About 20 years ago, it was rare to see one, but now there is quite a fair bit. They are very beautiful creatures. x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Ana .. good to see you back! There certainly are a lot more around and perhaps I should do another post of worldwide jellyfish .. I agree it was rare to see them, or for them to reach our British shores. Times are a-changin' ... but they are beautiful ... cheers Hilary