JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Stingers

Jellyfish Stingers picture

Jellyfish Stingers

Jellyfish are amongst the most abundant species in the marine waters of the world. There are more than 2000 known species of jellyfish and more species are discovered every year. Depending on their species, jellyfish inhabit all levels of the water from its surface to its very depths. Different species inhabit different parts of the world depending on the suitability of the conditions for their species. Considering how widespread jellyfish are, it is important to know a few facts about the jellyfish, whether you are a swimmer, surfer or diver in the marine waters.

Most species of jellyfish have a stinging apparatus with toxic venoms. This is how they procure their food and it is also their only defense against predators. Depending on their species, jellyfish have stingers on their oral arms and/or their tentacles. These stingers are called nematocysts and each oral arm or tentacle will have numerous nematocysts lining its sides. Some jellyfish species are capable of having thousands of nematocysts on each of their many tentacles.

These stingers or nematocysts are hollow and contain a coiled thread. This coiled thread is also hollow and carries the toxic venom of the jellyfish within it. These stingers have no central control as the jellyfish is too simple a creature to have brains. The jellyfish only has an elementary nervous system and the nerve receptacles themselves sense and also react to external stimuli like light, odor and pressure. These nerve receptacles also control the jellyfish's stingers.

When the jellyfish's tentacles come in contact with any hard object, the nerve receptacles feel the pressure from the contact and release the stingers. When this happens, the nematocysts burst open and the thread within starts to uncoil rapidly. This thread is then shot into the object like a harpoon where it deposits itself. The venom within these threads gets injected into the flesh of the prey or the victim causing the sting.

The jellyfish usually enables its stingers to procure its food. The tentacles which sway in the water sting and kill small prey and then transport the food to the mouth to facilitate ingestion. On the other hand, when the jellyfish senses danger or feels the presence of a large predator, its stingers get activated to protect itself. Even if the predator is too large to be killed by the jellyfish stingers, the toxins are powerful enough to paralyze it and give the jellyfish some time to escape.

The stingers of most species of jellyfish are completely harmless for humans. Their toxins cannot produce any effect higher than a mild rash or a burning sensation in most humans. However, if a person has received multiple stings from one or more jellyfish, there may be risk of symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, cramps, etc. Also, if the individual is extremely sensitive, he or she may experience severe symptoms. The toxins of the jellyfish venom can also produce sever allergic reaction in human, if they are prone to allergies. This condition can deteriorate rapidly and urgent medical intervention is required. On the other hand, it is best to avoid the few species of jellyfish whose stingers can cause serious harm, or even death, in humans.

Learn more about Jellyfish Stings and Jellyfish Safety

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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