Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creature Feature: Lion's Mane Jellyfish.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have some disturbing news: The world is being overrun by jellyfish. Not just any jellyfish, either; slowly but surely, the largest jellyfish in the world is taking over the seas.

This jellyfish has been appropriately dubbed the "Lion's Mane Jellyfish" (Cyanea capillata) due to its large size and extra-long tentacles. The largest jellyfish bell has been recorded at 7.6 feet (2.3m) in diameter, and the same jellyfish's train of tentacles was 120 feet (36.5m) long. It is considered the longest known animal in the world.

Y'know, the world that it will soon take over. 

Lion's mane jellyfish have become more and more abundant as of late. Science blames a number of factors for the rise. Global warming and overfishing are among the likely reasons; with warmer waters and less competition for food, the Lion's mane jellyfish are taking over the sea, and therefore the world.

Before you say that this is something that only happens in the tropics, you are way off. These jellyfish have a cousin in Australia, but they themselves are cold water jellies. The largest recorded Lion's mane up there was found near Massachusetts. Nowhere exotic. Other blooms have been found near Spain, England, and the Mediterranean coast. They have been seen around Japan (surprise, surprise) and Hawaii as well. They are targeting places that superpredators do not get to; good thing their stings are not deadly.

That said, an encounter with one of these jelly's stinging tentacles still sucks.  Symptoms include temporary pain and localized redness. They can sting after they are dead, too, so this is one dead thing to not poke with a stick.

On the plus side...

...if we can somehow make peace with these cnidarians, we can have squishies, too.

Tomorrow: As if regular starfish were not weird enough. 

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