It turns out I must have a thing for Medusa lately. I mean, recently I’ve been super into jellyfish, and of course, I like them most in their adult stage. Medusa, the adult is called. Well, I love them. With some reservations, however. Not only can they hurt like hell (believe me, I know), but they are kind of taking over the oceans. It’s a real problem. Jellyfish blooms are something that occur naturally, at reproduction peaks, and then the jellyfish swarm in hordes. However, with our fishing and hunting practices, the natural enemies of the jellyfish have been declining, and the jellyfish is flourishing at an alarming rate. You can read all about it here and here. The worst part is, these extra large blooms seem to be spreading the most dangerous jellies of all.
But that’s not what I really want to tell you about. Instead, I want to tell you how badly they hurt, and why I still love them. In Hawaii, as a wee lass of 20, I was embraced by a man of war. Sound romantic? Well, this was no veteran, but instead a jellyfish, of the family Physaliidae. It snuck up on me like some pervert, and wrapped it’s tentacles around my tender calf. In horror, I lifted my leg clear out of the water (I was in around upper thigh height) and did a crazy, ninja, hurl-kick. It went flying.
Next, I went running up the beach for help. Local wisdom required treatment with urine. I’ll spare you the details of how that all went down, but I will comment – it didn’t help. Let’s just say this, even though it didn’t quite bring me to tears, it hurt a lot. A LOT. And not just for that day. I seem to be one of those lucky people who can feel their stings for months. While the red whip marks (I’d rather have whip marks from something else, personally) blistered and went away within a few weeks or so, other side effects lasted longer. It left nerve damage that lasted almost 6 months. Whenever something lightly brushed that area of my leg, I would experience shooting pain. It wasn’t awful, but definitely unsettling and, quite frankly, shocking. I got over it, and last time I went to Hawaii, I still swam, albeit cautiously.
Then, why do I like jellyfish so much? Well, anything that looks like a blob of jello, but miraculously maintains elegance and beauty is okay in my book. I mean, honestly! Also, their life cycle is fascinating. They basically act like plants, animals, all sorts of things! They also come in a huge range of sizes – tinier than a match head to upwards of 6 feet. Finally, jellyfish are so mesmerizing to look at. Just look at how occupied they kept Ernst Haekel. I really, really like them.
So, I took some pictures of them at my local California Academy of Science! Enjoy <3 If you find jellyfish as fascinating as I do, click on some of the links in this post for fabulous information. And, if for some reason you want to own your very own jellyfish friend, apparently you can.