Ouch, as true as it may be, May Sarton’s quote really stings. The good news is that the moon jelly pictured above has really short tentacles, is rather poor a hugging and as far as stinging goes is pretty weak. So no excuses, everyone into the pool or ocean at the case may be!
Not all sea nettles are as benign as this one, I recall what a nuisance the Chesapeake bay version* was when I was a kid . Those have long tentacles that are great at wrapping around arms and legs . Since visibility in the cloudy water of the bay is limited at best, particularly in summer, those big bad hugs were often big bad surprises. Unlike the Caribbean, where swimming is a year round pleasure , the season is quite a bit shorter up north. Just about the time the water becomes nice and comfortable those nasty , nasty sea nettles were entering the free swimming medusa stage of their life cycle. By the forth of July swimming becomes an at your own risk proposition. We would use spotters but due to water clarity, or lack thereof , there were no guarantees. Yeah, I know there are jelly fish in the waters of Australia that will kill you so I shouldn’t be complaining.
That said there is a certain gracefulness to these creatures, they truly go with the flow and its hard to imagine their neural networks experiencing much stress. Their lifecycle is truly bizarre and a grad student in China recently discovered the things can actually age backward – sort of. They wave been around for 500 million years and are the oldest multi organ creature. They are 97% water and of low nutritional value. Despite this sea turtles and sunfish enjoy dining on them. According to wikipedia the moon jellies pictured here are considered to be edible. 321 thousand metric tons of edible jellies, not the bean kind, were harvested globally in 2001. But unlike lion fish I have never seen moon jellies on the menu of any Island menu. Yum. So if you want to give it a go, your adventure will be of the do it yourself variety.
It is thought that our oceans may become more gelatinous. While human presence typically has negative consequence on marine life, pollution has reduced the pH of the seas and overfishing has reduced populations of competing species, both to the delight of the jellyfish .
You can find anything on YouTube ( this one is worth a listen but has a little language so be warned )
*In 2017 the Sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay were determined to be a species separate from the Atlantic Sea Nettle.