So beautiful, yet so misunderstood. We look at some of the more interesting facts about the Medusa

“Soul mates. They really call themselves that, which makes sense, because I guess they are ... They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride though life like conjoined jellyfish - expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other's spaces liquidly. Making it look easy.” 

A beautiful quote about beautiful but very mis-understood creatures. After my last blog about a "paddle boarders perspective" of Britain's wildlife in and on the oceans, the very next day I stumbled upon a beautiful Compass Jellyfish. Wishing to share this experience, I posted my pictures, which were duly then picked up by BBC Sussex and BBC South Today. These humble little pictures were shared over 15,000 times over the course of the next week. 


What I found fascinating was the range of emotions that these creatures provoked. It also crossed my mind that they are completely mis-understood, and much of the information out there is still based on limited knowledge and "old wives tales". 

That is why, this week, The Wild Side is taking a much closer look at the MEDUSA in all its incredible glory! 

1. Jellyfish Can See!

If you dare to look closely enough at a jellyfish umbrella, you will see four small organs called rhopalia. These contain the jellyfish's sensory structures, which include light, balance, a current sensor and a chemical receptor. Each of the rhopalia has six eyes making a total of twenty-four eyes! Eight of their eyes have a lens, retina and an iris, which adjusts according to light conditions, just like ours.

2. Jellyfish Are Incredibly Efficient At Swimming

They aren't the fastest creatures in the ocean, but they are incredible swimmers despite the fact it looks like they are bobbing around without any directional sense! They use over three times less energy moving through the water, compared to a fish like a salmon or sea bass. This is because their "wiggle" creates an area of low pressure in front of them, which then sucks them through the water, in the same was as when you drink through a straw.

3. A jellyfish sting fires with the fastest speed in the animal kingdom 

Imagine this....  A Bugatti Veron accelerates from 0 - 60 in 2.5 seconds. A Ferrari accelerates from 0 - 60 in three seconds. That’s 3g. A jellyfish stinging cell fires with an accelerated speed of five million g. It takes 700 nanoseconds to hit its mark. Together with their sea cousin’s coral and anemones, they have an arsenal of over thirty different types of sting cell, ranging from a variety of barbs and spines.

4. Some Jellyfish Are Immortal

There are two phases in the life of a jellyfish - the polyp stage and the medusa phase. When we visualise jellyfish, this is in the second phase of their life. However, one canny little jelly – the Turritopsis nutricula, has the ability to travel backwards to the polyp stage, earning it the nickname “the immortal jellyfish!

5. There is a jellyfish that looks like a U.F.O. 

This little cosmic fella was discovered by scientists in 2017, 9800 (3000 metres) beneath the sea in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean near Samoa. Aptly names the “Cosmic jellyfish” 

6. Jellyfish can grow to epic sizes.

The largest jellyfish ever found was a lion’s mane jellyfish with a diameter of 7ft 6in and 120ft long tentacles. It had been washed up on the shore In Massachusetts. By comparison, the largest blue whale ever recorded was a mere 108 ft long! Unfortunately, they pay for their size and have a life span of only 12 months.

7. Jellyfish or plastic bag. 

Jellyfish are the staple diet of many turtle species. The barrel jellyfish is common in English waters and in the summer attract feeding leatherback turtles. There is a sinister side to this tale however. Plastic bags floating in the water remarkably resemble jellyfish to a hungry turtle. In fact, scientists in Queensland discovered that over 50% of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.

Out of the millions of varying species in our world’s oceans 700 are facing extinction from plastic pollution, entanglement and ingestion.

Leatherback turtle feeding on jellyfish.

Can you tell the difference? Either can turtles. 

Bags floating in the ocean.

Thats all from the Wild Side this week. Thanks for reading 🏄‍♀️ 

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