|Mastigias papua. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, we called them jellyfish, and had fights on the beach with the white ones (the red ones we feared most, as they could sting). And it's true that some box jellyfishes can cause cardiac arrests in humans within minutes of being stung. The term jellies refer to all gelatinous drifting animals (zooplankton), while jellyfish is used to describe the umbrella-shaped jellies with stinging cells that belong to the group of animals (phylum) called Cnidaria.
|Jelly Neil Fisher. Vancouver Aquarium photo.
There's also an explanation of the phenomenon of jelly blooms, which are unusually huge congregations of jellyfishes and comb jellies. The jelly blooms can decimate fisheries, tip over fishing boats and shut down power plants. Here are some other fun facts about jellies:
- A jellyfish's body is comprised of about 95% water
- Despite their delicate appearance, jellies poop out of their mouths
- The most popular jellyfish is the edible jellyfish that's commercially sold as red, sand or China jellyfish. They are cut into strips, marinated with a soy-sesame dressing and served as a salad with vegetable or chicken slices
- Urinating on a jellyfish sting makes it worse. Use a credit card to gently scrape the remaining tentacle and/or stinging cells off your skas as soon as possible
- Caribbean box jellyfish have sophisticated eyes, stalking its prey with four clusters of 24 eyes
|Spotted Jell. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium.