JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Stinging Cells

Jellyfish Stinging Cells picture

Jellyfish Stinging Cells

Jellyfish are varying in size and quite hard to see in the water because of their transparent or opaque appearance. These marine creatures which we share the ocean with when we swim are capable of stinging us bringing with the sting much pain and discomfort.

Every tentacle on a jellyfish can house millions of stinging cells which are known as Nematocyst. These cells release barbed threads to hook into the skin as well as sometimes releasing a poison which can at times be fatal. These Nematocysts are very effective as weapons for the jellyfish and a single one of these Nematocysts has been shown to have the ability to paralyse a small sized anthropod. The deadliest of the jellyfish poisons when injected into humans are said to be found on the bodies of box jellyfish. A box jellyfish in Australia known as the Sea Wasp is thought to be the most venomous marine dwelling animal known to man. A sting from a Sea Wasp jellyfish can cause death within as little as two to three minutes. Jellyfish do not sting their victims intentionally; when an object comes into contact with these stinging cells they automatically release their barbs. It is this action that makes jellyfish dead on the beach a hazard to those strolling along it. Even if a jellyfish is dead, the barbs will still be released by the cells upon contact.

A jellyfish is able to create these stinging cells at such remarkable rates that they are able to use them as disposable tools. Every stinging cell on the tentacles of a jellyfish has a trigger hair which is officially known as a cnidocil which works by activating a nerve circuit in order to open the lid or operculum and simultaneously put pressure onto the cell. Multiple cells which are adjacent to one another may all be triggered at the same time. In the capsule a harpoon style barb and its' Nematocyst or stinging thread is released due to the pressure. The barb imbeds itself into the victims' skin and releases the poison not just once but multiple times. Once a stinging cell has been used up it will be replaced within a period of about 48 hours.

The poisons released by stinging cells of the jellyfish can have various effects on humans. The sting of box jellyfish can be fatal where as the sting from a bluebottle is extremely painful but rarely fatal. Another sea creature that has these nematocysts is the aggregating sea anemone. The sting of this sea anemone is only low in intensity with a feeling similar to touching a sticky lollipop to a human being. Colonies of sea anemones use their stinging abilities in order to attack one another and win more space for themselves.

It is amazing just what has to be done in order for the jellyfish to be able to sting its victim. These stinging cells exist on the jellyfish purely as an effective, defensive tool to fend off would be attackers.

Learn more about Jellyfish Stings

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

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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