Marine Biology

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish



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Of all of the natural environments that make up this vast world, that of the Ocean is the most intriquing. The ocean is beautiful, fascinating, and full of wonder. It's one of the few places that man can not constantly observe through long periods of time. Thus, many of the creatures that inhabit the oceans are interesting. One of the most captivating creatures in the ocean is the jellyfish. One of the most interesting things that few people are aware of about jellyfish (Chrysaora fuscescens) is that they have an actual lifespan of about only two and a half months. The occasional lucky jellyfish might live to the six month mark, but those are few and far between. It doesn't seem quite fair for the jellies, but is probably good for us humans, considering that a jellyfish sting (or "trigger" as it is refereed to) are quite painful. The toxins in the stings may cause some people to suffer anaphylaxis (which the body's severe allergic reaction to a foreign protein). While they are not considered deadly to our race, they can be problematic for us swimmers, and even downright annoying to surfers.

Within this unfairly short lifespan, the jellies pass through two forms or 'life history phases'. The first form being the 'polypoid stage' where it may catch it's food as it passes by the jelly. In this stage, the jelly is just a free floating makeup, sort of like a blob of jello. The mouth and the tentacles will be facing upwards, almost like the polyp is floating upside down. This shape resembles an upside down umbrella (without the handle, of course).

The second stage is where it gets fun for the jelly. Believe it or not this is when they are referred to as medusa (medusae, plural, that would be Latin), the body being called the bell. Now, that sounding pleasant, one would really change their mind upon seeing the fringe-like tentacles that protectively jut out from that fancy bell. Until you get stung, that is.

Jellyfish may be male and female, but the way they reproduce is not by contact with one another, strangely enough (they're probably afraid they'll sting one another!). The male jelly actually releases sperm into the water, and then the sperm swim into the females mouth (I guess one could say that the male jellies have 'good swimmers'). When the sperm enter the mouth, they then fertilize in the ova.

After fertilization, the jellyfish 'babies' resemble small larvae forms, before forming polyps, that then grow into what looks like a teeny tiny sea anemone. The sea anemone starts all over in the first stage of life. Most of the species of jellies produce new medusae while they are in fact in the medusa stage.

Though this might sound boring and scientific, well, it is. But it is also interesting. The jellyfish, in their short life feed on zooplankton and surprisingly smaller fish. Jellyfish can be found in all of the Oceans, and as a little known fact, they actually are found in fresh water as well. They swim very slow, and really just drift along, and feed on whatever floats their way, probably contributing to their short life span. In addition to a short life, jellyfish do not have brains! The rely on their nervous systems to react to stimuli like odor and forms of light (how much light is in the ocean, anyway?).

The jellyfish protein (or their bodies) is also often used in some biology uses. As if the jellies didn't have enough problems, they are in some countries considered food. Asia, and China eat them by cooking them in a certain way. And they are considered a low calorie food, considering their make up is about ninety five percent water, and the rest mostly protein. as interesting as that sounds, I think I'll stick to the regular surf and turf.

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More about this author: Shawna Blake

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