The most extraordinary jellyfish


Araby Scott, Contributor

From the one cubic centimeter Irukandji jellyfish, to the 112 foot Lion’s Mane jellyfish, these wiggily sea creatures are one of the most fascinating species. Jellyfish are mostly made up of water yet, the box jellyfish are one of the most venomous animals in the world. A sting from a box jellyfish is power enough to send a grown man into cardiac arrest within minutes of the sting. Humans have been fascinated by jellies for years, so much so that since the early 1990’s, NASA has been launching them into space. NASA was testing the effects of microgravity on the developing baby jellyfish. Biologist RR Helm remarked on the experiment, “When a jelly grows, it forms calcium sulfate crystals at the margin of its bell. These crystals are surrounded by a little cell pocket, coated in specialized hairs, and these pockets are equally spaced around the bell. When jellies turn, the crystals roll down with gravity to the bottom of the pocket, moving the cell hairs, which in turn send signals to neurons. In this way, jellies are able to sense up and down. All they need is gravity.” The most fascinating jellies include the Irukandji, the Lion’s Mane, and the Immortal jellyfish.

The Irukandji jellyfish inhibit the northern waters of Australia. They are the smallest and one of the most venomous box jellyfish, making them extremely dangerous. When stung by a Irukandji the victim will experience Irukandji syndrome. The symptoms begin light, with most describing the sight of the sting to feel comparable to a mosquito bite. Within as little as thirty minutes, headache, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, and in some cases even tachycardia (increased heart rate) and pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs). However, a single sting from an Irukandji is rarely fatal, there are only two known deaths have been attributed to a Irukandji sting.

The Lion’s Mane, also called the hair, or giant jellyfish call the northern pacific home. They get their names from their enormous length and multitude of tentacles creating a hair like appearance. and  The Lion’s mane jelly is the largest breed, the largest one measuring at 112 feet long. The the smaller Lion’s mane jelly are about twenty inches in diameter. A sting from this jelly will only cause the victim a slightly painful rash, the sting is never been fatal to an otherwise healthy individual.

The Turritopsis dohrnii, better known as the Immortal jellyfish, lives in the mediterranean and the oceans surrounding Japan. The Immortal jelly get their name form the fact that they are biologically immortal. The jellies cannot die from aging because they are, “Capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary individual.” In other words, once the Turritopsis dohrnii reach its most mature state, they slowly revert back into its original or child like polyp. The vast majority of jellies have a fixed life span, the longevity of such changes drastically based on species. The Immortal jellyfish is one of the very few biologically immortal animals alongside the hydra and certain lobsters.