Ten Things You Need to Know About Jellyfish, Our Gelatinous Frenemies

Categories: Flotsam
jellyfish_thumb.jpg
Illustration by Colin Hayes
Download our jellyfish guide in PDF format here.

One day you're floating in the ocean, playing "spot Lady Gaga" among the billowy tropical clouds. The next thing you know, something has enveloped your outstretched hand. It feels like a plastic bag. But when you look down, you realize you're surrounded by purplish orbs the size of dinner plates. Indeed, the jellies are here again, clearing beaches from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys. So in light of their miraculous reappearance, we asked marine biologist Monty Graham what ten things we need to know about jellyfish.

1. They're hungry.

They might look like old boob implants in search of their owners, but jellyfish are voracious. The two most common types in Miami are the round moon jelly and the Portuguese man-of-war, also known as the "blue bottle" for its gaseous pouch. While moon jellies eat plankton, men-of-war can use their long, trailing tentacles to catch fish as large as five inches.

2. And mindless.

Without a nervous system, jellies have little idea what they're latching onto. It could easily be you.

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Illustration by Colin Hayes
3. Pee is a placebo.

Some Pacific jellyfish are deadly, but South Florida jellies are lightweights. Like alcohol, however, the volume of jelly venom makes all the difference. Here's what to do if stung: Pull the tentacle off immediately. The stinging toxin is already in your bloodstream, so splashing yourself with urine, meat tenderizer, or sand won't help much. "I usually tell people to do whatever makes them feel better," Graham says. "If that means a little bit of your buddy's pee, go for it."

Wash your hands. Jelly toxin might not be strong enough to seep through the thick skin on your hands, but it will mess you up if you touch your eyes or face.

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5 comments
zippyjet
zippyjet

Surprise, I got on the beach Sunday and no one was in the Ocean. Looked down and it looked like Beware of The Blob Bombards Miami Beach. Is it the current that brings them in. Tomorrow, Monday is my last day of vacation do you think they will lessen or better yet be gone so I can get in a last ocean swim before flying home?

J.R.
J.R.

This was definitely written for the mainstay "New Times" reader.

jules winnfield
jules winnfield

Excellent, fun to read posts. We need more like this one.

Joetexas
Joetexas

THEY ARE IMMORTAL! thats awesome good article

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