JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Stings

Jellyfish Stings picture

Jellyfish Stings

Jellyfish are known to be the most fascinating creatures of the marine world. However, we also know them to be dangerous. The sensational appearances that jellyfish have made in our literature and films have made them out to be human attackers in the ocean. This is however, not true. Jellyfish do not attack human; they don't even have brains to process such information! Then how come so many reported jellyfish stings make it to our news every year? Let's look at why and how the jellyfish stings to understand this phenomenon.

Jellyfish are amongst the most fragile and simple creatures in the oceans. Only 5% of their body mass is made up of solid organic matter. They are so simple that they do not have any specialized systems for digestion, reproduction or defense. The survival of the jellyfish depends upon their venom apparatus. It helps them procure their food and keeps large predators at bay.

The venom apparatus of the jellyfish consists of numerous nematocysts along their tentacles and oral arms. These nematocysts are hollow and capsule like. Inside these hollow capsules is a thread which is tightly coiled. The venom of the jellyfish is trapped within this thread. Depending upon the species of the jellyfish, the number of nematocysts, their location and the toxicity of the venom will vary.

The jellyfish does not have a brain to control this venom apparatus. What it does have is rudimentary nervous systems, the nerve receptacle of which are equipped to sense as well as react to external stimuli. They can sense changes in light, odor, pressure, etc. When the tentacle of the jellyfish comes in contact with any hard surface, the nervous system immediately triggers the venom apparatus. The nematocysts burst open and the thread within begin to uncoil. They are then shot forward and they lodge themselves in the flesh of their victim or prey and inject the venom into them. This is how a jellyfish stings.

Jellyfish use their sting to paralyze or kill small creatures that they can eat as food. On the other hand, when faced by an attack by a large predator, they use their sting to paralyze them to get enough time to escape. When humans enter the same waters as the jellyfish, the jellyfish just reacts to the human presence in the same way as it would react to the presence of a predator.

It is important to remember that jellyfish can not and do not attack human beings. Apart from having no brain, they also have no system for horizontal movement. They cannot approach humans on their own and sting them. Jellyfish depend upon the tides and the currents of the waters for their movements. When they come in contact with human flesh, they react in the only way possible for them and sting.

Most jellyfish stings are harmless to human beings. They cause mild irritation at most. This is because the toxicity in the jellyfish venom does not have any significant effect on human beings. However, there are some species that can harm humans and it is important to identify and avoid them.

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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