The 6 Most Amazing Jellyfish in the Sea
Jellyfish, or jellies to give them their scientific name, have enchanted humanity since we first laid eyes on them. Unsubstantial and wispy, they float around our oceans almost without thought or effort, their tendrils carelessly drifting behind them as they go.
Jellies have existed in one form or another for about 700 million years (25% of the Earths existence), in that time they have evolved some rather amazing attributes.
Jellies come in all shapes and sizes, and over 2000 different variants of the species are known to exist. Most of the variations will go through life as unremarkable beings, sloshing to and fro with the ocean currents, praying some plankton will become caught in their tentacles. Some, on the other hand, will become the envy of all their friends with their superhero-like abilities.
This article is a rundown of the six jellies we feel are the most amazing and awesome in all of the oceans.
6. Nomura's Jellyfish
If you've an irrational fear of jellies, it's probably down to the Nomura... and it's probably not that irrational. The Japanese coastline has become swamped by these floating monsters, and the government has had to come up with some commonsensical ways to recycle the bodies. This led to a spate of jellyfish snacks and tofu; it was even noted that the collagen from the species worked wonders for the skin.
The reason the Nomura is so awesome is due to its mass. They have been known to grow up to two metres in diameter and can weigh up to 220 pounds (100kg), which, for a giant sea-blob, is quite a considerable size. The Nomura is commonly found in or around the Yellow Sea.
Learn more about the Nomura's Jellyfish in our Jellyfish Species section.
5. Irukandji Jellyfish
From the very large and blusterous to the rather small and worryingly venomous.
The Irukandji jelly many not be too much to look at, but for what it lacks in pomp, it makes up for in bite. Thought only to inhabit the warm waters surrounding Australia, the Irukandji has been known to exist near Europe and America. You many not feel threatened by these minute buggers, but you'd be smart to keep your distance, as they have a syndrome named after their sting...
The Irukandji Syndrome was first documented in 1952 by Hugo Flecker. Unlike many of his bigger brothers, the Irukandji has venomous spikes on its bell. These spikes are pulled off the jelly when its victim reacts to the sting. The venom takes about half an hour to activate, but you can expect a whole catalogue of nasty symptoms such as: nausea, headaches, irritated skin, muscle cramps, severe joint pain, restlessness, a burning feeling in the spine and kidneys, vomiting, sweating, cramps and, perhaps most worryingly, a feeling of impending doom.
Best stay clear then.
Learn more about the Irukandji Jellyfish in our Jellyfish Species section.
4. The Portuguese Man o' War
While the Portuguese Man o' War is not specifically a jellyfish (it's actually a siphonophore that's made up of more than one separate creature), it is pretty awesome, and we think it deserves a spot on the list. Unlike regular jellies, the Man o' War floats on the surface of the water thanks to its gas-filled bladder, leaving its tendrils to sweep the depths below for yummy plankton and unfortunate fish.
The sting of these odd-looking creatures is not as powerful as that of the Irukandji, but the jelly is much more prevalent and stings occur more commonly. Due to the lack of any means of propulsion and its sail like bell, the Man o' War tends to drift around the ocean and has been found in Western Europe, Australia and even South America.
If you're unlucky enough to come into contact with one of these bad boys, expect to look like a sunburned zebra for a couple of days. Take heart though, at least you've been stung by something that sounds like an ancient battleship.
Learn more about the Portuguese Man o' War in our Jellyfish Species section.
3. Lion's Mane Jellyfish
If size is your thing, then the Lion's Mane jelly is for you. This behemoth has a bell that can reach up to 8 feet (2.5 metres) in diameter, but the most incredible part of the Lion's Mane is what trails behind it. Set in clusters of 100, the tentacles of this beast can reach up to 120 feet (37 metres) in length which, as the marine biologists out there will have already noted, is longer than the blue whale.
Like most jellyfish, the Lion's Mane is not in total control of its movements, relying on currents and tides to progress from A to B. The sting of our globular friend is pretty harmless, save some minor irritation and some redness. Due to the length of the tendrils and the fact that they remain potent some time after death, a washed up Jelly can cause injury to a large group of people.
Our advice: wear sandals.
Learn more about the Lion's Mane Jellyfish in our Jellyfish Species section.
2. Turritopsis nutricula (The Immortal Jellyfish)
We all dream of being immortal, but unfortunately the dream of immortality isn't as simple as doing what you want when you want it without fear of reprisal or damnation. Sadly, the key to extended longevity lies in the ability to return to a polyp (adolescent) state after becoming sexually mature... and in being a very small, rather lonely-looking jelly with an unpronounceable name.
Although the Immortal jellyfish is theoretically immortal, it has only been proven in a lab, and this is almost impossible to prove in the wild. We imagine something this minute wouldn't last too long when faced with the unmentionable horrors of the deep.
Learn more about the Immortal Jellyfish in our Jellyfish Species section.
1. Aequorea Victoria (The Crystal Jelly)
The Crystal Jelly is one of the more beautiful jellyfish out there; far more substantial than the tiny Irukandji jellyfish and far more refined than the mess of tentacles that makes up the Lion's Mane. Aequorea Victoria also has one special attribute that outshines all his counterparts: they glow in the dark.
Thanks to a special a release of calcium, the jelly can produce flashes of blue light that turn green thanks to its green florescent protein (GFP).
The GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) produced by this amazing jelly is used in important biological research and even in art. However, to the untrained eye these wonders of nature are nothing more than beautiful, drifting beacons of pulsing blue light.
Learn more about Bioluminescent Jellyfish in our Jellyfish Information section.
Well, there we have it; six of the most spectacular jellies on the planet. As we've already seen, the Japanese had to find some industrious ways to deal with their jellyfish invasion; others prefer to look at these blobby wonders as opposed to eating them, and as such have managed to turn some of the specimens into lamps.
So, for those of you who can't get enough of our alien-like ankle stingers, you can head down to your local jellyfish outlet and pick up a few of these bad boys.
For more information on jellyfish collectibles and toys, don't miss our Jellyfish Collectibles area. You'll be the envy of all your neighbours, and a threatening reminder to any stray krill to keep their distance.
Written by Nathan Dickerson