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Crystal Jellyfish -- The creature is found in the waters off the west
coast of North America. The species is totally colorless … in daylight it looks crystal clear. You can get a sense of that clarity in the picture by Matt Stansfield. Crystal jellies are known to be bioluminescent, capable of producing quick flashes of blue and green light. Some of that ability is shown in the photo from Gary Kavanagh. The bioluminescence is created by an interaction of proteins that creates a blue-green light which is re-emitted as a green light. Scientists have inserted the animal’s gene that contains the green fluorescent protein into mice … When hit with blue light, those rodents glow green!
Moon Jellyfish -- This label encompasses several species. They’re usually translucent, up to 16 inches in diameter, and identified by their four gonads … they’re horseshoe-shaped and easily glimpsed through the top of its bell. They’re found throughout the world’s oceans and usually drifts with the current. Did you know that one species of Moon Jellyfish have a reversed lifecycle … they actually grow younger instead of older! Maybe it’s a Benjamin Button jelly.
Box Jellyfish … these creatures are distinguished by their cube shape … They’re also distinguished by their venom, which is extremely potent . Stings from certain species of box jellies produce excruciating pain and can be fatal to humans. Tentacles of these creatures can reach nearly 10 feet and contain around 5,000 stinging cells per tentacle. Among the deadliest box jellies are the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, with a toxic sting that causes muscle paralysis leading to heart attack. But it’s the tiniest of the species that can pose the biggest threat to humans. The Irukandji jelly is the world’s smallest and most venomous box jellyfish. It’s sting is 100 times as potent as a cobra’s.
We actually featured this creature on a episode of Deep Sea Sunday a couple weeks ago called “10 Weird Undersea Discoveries” … But it’s so weird we’re giving it an encore. For reasons that should be apparent, it’s commonly referred to as the Darth Vader jellyfish, Scrutinize the picture and see if doesn’t bear an uncanny resemblance to the Sith lord. It’s considered a Narcomedusae (narka med-you-see)… an order of hydrozoans (hi-dro-zones) that inhabit the open seas and deep waters.
Brand New Jelly -- Earlier in 2016, a deepwater exploration mission at the Mariana Trench discovered an amazing species of jellyfish … one previously unknown to science. The orb-like creature was found at a depth of 3,700 meters, and kind of resembles a Christmas tree ornament. So far, experts haven’t assigned a precise name to the weird looking hydromedusa (hydro-med-you-see). What would you call it?
Portuguese Man o’ War -- We’re cheating a bit with this one. While this creature may resemble a jellyfish … it’s actually a siphonophore (sih-fon-if-fur) -- a colonial organism comprised of individual animals called zooids (zoo-ids). Photographer Matthew Smith took some pictures of the creature in Australia. They’re also identified as Bluebottles … they make the sea waves glow with a neon blue thanks to bioluminescence. Experts think jellies and siphonophores (sih-fon-if-furs) use the process to warn off predators. The animals normally inhabit tropical waters, and have no means of propulsion … they’re carried along by wind currents and tides. That doesn’t mean they’re helpless … or harmless. The creatures have tentacles that can deliver a painful sting … which can be potentially dangerous to humans
Barrel Jellyfish -- They seem to have an affinity for the UK. In 2014 large numbers of the creatures were spotted off the beaches of Cornwall. It’s thought that warm weather and a plentiful supply of plankton enticed them to visit the area. The animals are easily recognized by their smooth bell shape and tentacles that resemble cauliflower. Those tentacles contain hundreds of miniscule mouths, stinging cells, and a digestive system.
The following year, tens of thousands of the jellyfish were spotted swarming off the coast of Dorset. More than three feet wide and five feet long, the Barrel jellyfish weigh around 70 pounds, and is the largest species found in south-west Britain. And while they can sting humans, they aren’t strong enough to cause any serious harm … although swimmers are advised to stay clear. Experts think the sudden invasion had to do with overfishing … that would leave fewer predators to eat the jellyfish when they were smaller and younger.
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