Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jellyfish

The other day I saw a documentary on jellyfish on the National Geographic channel. Very interesting. The most poisonous jellyfish is the box jellyfish, which can kill people and has tentacles 8 ft. long. There were a couple unique things revealed about the box jelly. Rather than having one kind of toxin, it has a combo of 3. There are different toxins that do different things - the examples they used were the toxins from a brown recluse spider, which causes flesh to rot; the toxin from a scorpion (I can't remember what that one does); and the toxin from a snake (can't remember that one either). The box jelly's toxin does all three of those things, which has thwarted attempts so far to make an antivenin.

The other really surprising thing about the box jelly is that it has eyes! Scientists found that their eyes have pupils, lens and retina. However, the jelly does not have a brain as we know it. It does have a neural network, though. Research showed that the box jelly does not see the color white - it just ran right into white poles placed in the tank. When black poles were put in, it navigated around them (the black poles are similar to the root systems of mangrove trees in water, which jellies will enter in order to find prey). And red poles, it purposely avoided and tried to get away from. Oh - and jellies don't aimlessly drift. They swim with a purpose: hunting. They hunt fish. The fish are stung, grabbed up by the tentacles, and are brought into the bulbous part of the jelly where they are completely dissolved by enzymes.

The worrisome thing to me was the part where they showed hundreds of box jellies (remember, able to kill humans) washing up on Waikiki Beach on Oahu. Oh no! My favorite vacation destination! As if being paranoid about sharks was not bad enough for me. (While honeymooning in the British Virgin Islands, Mitch and I were snorkeling and saw a shark very near us. I almost walked on water that day.)

I think I'll buy a red swimsuit before I go in the ocean again.

Today I found this beautiful objet d'art...I think jellyfish are very beautiful. It's a blown glass jellyfish.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Hmmm, very interesting. Yes, next time I choose a bathing suit, it may be red!

Gorgeous glass!