Sunday, May 24, 2015

Finding Medusa

This is early in the season for jellyfish — commonly known here as "medusa." They usually arrive every year when the waters are much warmer. With May's July-like weather or climate change or over-fishing (or all of the above), we may see more this summer.

Unfortunately, Elena spotted some on the beach one morning last week. I walked the beach a while later and found none. The first three shots below are what Elena saw.

Note: Many thanks to Wilma of the blog South English Town Gazette for pointing out that these first three photos are of a Portuguese Man of War. I'm really glad I wasn't on the beach that day! Click here for the painful truth about these siphonophores.

(Click any image to 'jellify.')





Another Day
I went across the street to relax on the beach for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon. It was a perfect day for the beach, but there were surprisingly few people. And there was no one swimming. I noticed a father and son playing close to shore with a football (soccer ball). Whenever the son would let it go into the water, the father would scold and point and wait for the surf to bring it back in. That's when I noticed a jellyfish that had been washed ashore. I let my eyes wander and realised the surf was teeming with them. I was seeing my first "bloom" or "swarm" of medusas.



A group of boys were playing ball and spotted the jellyfish in the surf. One washed up at their suddenly scrambling feet. It was a different type from what I had already seen, and slightly smaller.

After inspecting the jellyfish, one boy scooped it up along with the wet sand and held it up for me. He said it wasn't a "medusa"; it was an "aguaviva." When I later looked up the word, I found that aguaviva was, like Medusa, just another generic name for jellyfish here.

The different so-called "jellyfish" we see aren't even all jellyfish in the first place (for example, the Portuguese Man of War), and what we call jellyfish aren't actually fish anyway. And if you want to learn more about that, you'll have to look it up. I never studied marine biology (although I did grow up near the New York Aquarium.)

AGUAVIVA?
HE SAID, "THESE DON'T STING, THEY JUST LEAVE A RED MARK."
(THAT DIDN'T KEEP HIM FROM RUNNING WHEN THEY GOT TOO CLOSE.)
I DISTORTED THE CONTRAST SO YOU CAN SEE THE SWARM.
CALMY WAITING TO CATCH A JELLYFISH IN A T-SHIRT.
(THE BOY AT RIGHT HAS THE T-SHIRT.  THEY WEREN'T TRYING
TO CATCH A JELLYFISH THAT WAS WEARING ONE.)
THE HUNTERS BECOME THE HUNTED...

Los Boliches medusa hunters in action.
video

23 comments:

  1. Those photos that Elena took look like Portuguese Man-o-war "jellyfish". We get them on this side of the Atlantic, too. They are beautiful, but do have a nasty sting. Your other photos look like true jellyfish, and they also sting, but usually not as bad as the man-o-war. We get the true jellies, too, and I have had the occasional sting. Not painful enough to keep me from getting in the water, just irritating. Not sure if there is season around here. Be careful! The boys seemed to be having a grand time!

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    1. Wilma:
      Thanks so much for pointing that out. I didn't know what was what. I added that info the post. Those boys were great. I found it ironic that the one who told me these jellies weren't at all dangerous was running away faster than just about anyone else.

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  2. Mitchell I don't like them

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    1. Gosia:
      Neither do I... but they're beautiful to look at.

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  3. Yikes! Good that most are being careful, except for the boys.....being boys! The one in blue reminded me of me at that age....all skin and bones!! lol they are having fun though.

    I was stung once when I unwittingly waded through the very long tentacles of a jellyfish. It stung like the blazes for a few hours, leaving red welts on one leg.

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    1. Jim:
      The gangly one reminded me of myself, too. I'm very careful when it comes to jellyfish. Given my allergy to bee stings and my severe reactions to most other insect bites, I'm not taking any chances.

      Delete
  4. Stand clear of these menaces because a good sting could hurt for days or more. I have never seen a PMOW and really don't need to. Those boys are so carefree but run like thunder when the tide quickly changes......oh the excitement.

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    1. Ron:
      While living in San Diego and going to Black's Beach, I heard stories of people being air-lifted out by helicopter after being stung by PMOWs. No thanks!

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    2. That makes it more clear for me now!! Thanks!

      Delete
  5. I've always found jellyfish to be so terribly odd looking, and I must say that I find the 'remedies' for their stings to be quite amusing; although I doubt I would if stung.

    Really, everything from meat tenderiser to fresh urine... how would one apply fresh urine if alone? Pee pee twister? ;-)

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    1. Jacqueline:
      The remedy is much easier for a man than a woman I would imagine. But, no more pleasant (well, I guess it depends on your proclivities...)

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  6. How horrible they are. Sydney used to have bottles of vinegar on the beach for people to use if they were stung. I am not sure which ones we have but they have long trailing tentacles that do the stinging.

    Jac, easier for a bloke to apply urine. Could always ask a friend, I guess.

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    1. Andrew:
      I had the same thought about the cure being easier for men. I'll just keep my distance.

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  7. As you know we have jelly creatures here off the East Coast too. But I've never seen one in a T-shirt.

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    1. Frank:
      I'm so glad I qualified that description. I knew you would catch it!

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  8. I love the sea, but as you show... there's always something out there to get you!

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    1. Sharon:
      I never thought about it when I was a kid.

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  9. I absolutely love jellyfish. We don't get any of the nasty Portuguese Man o war here though. They are one of my favorite creatures to take pictures of when alive, so graceful and beautiful in the water. I generally am not in the water though - I have been stung once and don't really want it to happen again :)

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    1. Cheapchick:
      They really are magical from a safe distance.

      Delete
  10. jellyfish are amazing creatures. However they are one of the main reasons I don't care to bathe in the ocean.

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    1. Spo:
      I'm grateful the water here is usually crystal clear. I'm always looking around when I'm in the water.

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  11. Jellyfish and so pretty, in water or out. Not that I want to touch or catch one!!!

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    1. Knatolee:
      Same for me. We had a piece of art glass called Moonfish that was amazing. We gave it to Jerry's sister and her husband when we left for Spain. I'll have to share a picture of it.

      Delete

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