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
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
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories