Giant Nomura Jellyfish
A Box Jellyfish
Cubozoan Jellyfish Class
The Depths of the marine world are home to many interesting sea creatures, not to mention ones that appear mysterious. Some of these creatures are very beautiful, but can also be equally as dangerous at the same time. Some use their shapes or colors as camouflage, to lure in other less wary potential prey, with the expectation of a quick meal being on the menu.
Most of us still marvel at the mysteries and awe-inspiring displays of the deep, yet are aware that some of these creatures, like sharks can be a potential threat, not only to other sea mammals but to humans as well. So because knowledge and plain common sense tells us to give creatures like sharks a wide berth. We being creatures of habit, do exactly that, realizing that these particular creatures could indeed present a real danger to us.
On the other hand there are other creatures, unlike sharks that we are not always able to see, or sense their presence, while we are in the water with them. This is particularly true of Medusae, a mythological name given to those mysterious mobile looking creatures of the deep called jellyfish.
Jellyfish are often called Medusae, because the long-hair like strands on the mythological God Medusa, look very similar and resemble that of the long intertwined tentacles seen floating below the body or bell of a jellyfish.
On a warm summer's day, most of us cannot wait to hit the beach and jump into the surf to cool ourselves off. Some of us may not even be aware of, or be thinking of it in the first place, as to whether one of these jelly like creatures may be submerged beneath the waves. Waiting to embrace us in a large agonizing network of stinging tentacles.
And than again why should we be concerned or care in the first place; to whether we swim into a jelly or not? Sometimes what we cannot see; or the fear of not knowing what could be is the greatest fear in itself. Rather than seeing or knowing that something is floating or sitting beneath the waves, waiting to nibble at our toes or brush up against our bodies leaving as it passes by an uncomfortable burning sensation.
Even though the chances are probably slim to none that we run into a jellyfish upon breaking the surface of the water on that warm summer's day. The possibility always exists and is even greater; particularly when we venture a bit further from shore, or exit our boats in the middle of the day to take a quick dip.
The reason being jellyfish are usually creatures of the deep that follow the ocean and bay currents for the most part. Jellyfish are not known to hunt people down like sharks do when preying upon seals. At times it may seem as if they do sneak up on us as we bathe in the surf.
Jellyfish are for the most part mindless creatures that have no bones, heart or brain. Their diet consists mainly of small herring and other fish. Some of the larger species, which also have a poisonous sting like the Giant Echizen off the coast of Japan, consume tuna in large quantities.
By looking at one of these jellyfish one could see that the size in comparison to a man is tremendous. In fact, if we could visualize for a moment, what's to say that one of these large jellyfish wouldn't engulf within its tentacles, paralyze with its sting, then consume a man if given a chance?
Imagine an even greater chance of this happening, particularly if jellyfish did have brains to think and plot with, and than use strategies to plan an attack on an unsuspecting human. A real frightening scenario that could develop indeed.
There are nearly some two-thousand different species of jellyfish and to add, they come in all different shapes and sizes. When you encounter a jellyfish in the water that you cannot see, you most likely were in its path as it traveled along the shoreline, drifting with the current. Its not like it were actually stalking you, as some may be led to believe.
If jellyfish did have a brain and skeletal system that we as humans have, than the story on the other hand could indeed be much different as mentioned previously. Even though jellyfish are not the prettiest creatures in the sea, nor the most gracious ones for that matter, they can in fact be deadly to humans, some deaths have also resulted from jellyfish stings.
In fact beneath their large shaped bells that pulse almost in unison with the ocean currents.... almost effortlessly up and down in an endless motion, lie a conglomeration of numerous tentacles that contain deadly a venom within.
Jellyfish have what are called nematocysts embedded at the end of their tentacles. It is these nematocysts that contain venom, or the poison if you will, that inflicts the often painful stings that jellyfish give us when they come in contact with our bare skin.
It is almost as if someone had poured a small amount of mild acid over a certain part of our bodies, resulting in an ugly looking laceration that can remain visible for a few hours at a time. There are some people who live closer to the warmer or more temperate areas of the world...Australia, Japan and China to name a few. Here within these warmer waters, live some of the more dangerous species of jellyfish that could kill a human being in seconds.
One such jellyfish, known as the Box Jellyfish, so-called because of its irridescent, box like shape, resides off of the shores of Australia. The venom contained within the nematocysts of this particular jellyfish is so potent, that it can kill sixty humans within a span of three minutes.
In fact it has a very painful sting, and if one is stung by the box jellyfish, this usually results in death. The particular species belongs to a class of jellyfish called cubozoans. The irukandji jellyfish, is also one of a few of the most deadliest jellyfish in the world, and also belongs to the same class of jellyfish species as the box jellyfish, which as previously mentioned is the cubozoan class.
This jellyfish has one of the most poisonous stings of all jellyfish, and some symptoms associated with its sting, are cramps, nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure to name a few. An individual who has been stung by one of these jellyfish, should be hospitalized soon afterward to get the appropriate treatment. In rare cases, people have died from the sting of the irukandji jellyfish.
A third jellyfish that can be potentially deadly to humans, is the Portuguese Man O' War, or blue bubble jellyfish as it is sometimes referred to. When at the surface of the sea, it displays a large bluish-white sac, or bubble that floats upon the surface. Below this sac, dangles hundreds of stinging tentacles, that can reach a length of up to 150 to 200 feet in length.
This type of jellyfish, cannot really survive as a whole organism in itself. Because it is not even considered a single organism for one. And to note, it has four specialized polyps within, that serve different functions, or parts, as do individual parts serve different functions within a human body for example.
Upon coming in contact with the skin, the tentacles of a Portuguese Man O' War, can leave huge red welts, and to add the sting is extremely painful to humans. Resulting symptoms from its sting are usually shock, fever, and problems developing that include the lungs and heart, and in some cases death can even occur. Hospitalization is mandatory in treating the stings from one of these jellyfish.
Sea Nettles are one other deadly Jellyfish species. They can be identified by four oval type arms, and a saucer shape to its bell. It is about six to eight inches in diameter. The sting form its tentacles, produce a mild burning or prickly sensation.
Numerous stings from a sea nettle, can cause serious harm as well to humans. Like most jellyfish, the sea nettle travels in groups or shoals, and keep in mind-not with the intention of stalking or hunting humans down or other prey to mention. Sea nettles, like the Portuguese Man O' War can be found in oceans of the world...the Pacific and Atlantic to name a few.
So it is important to keep in mind that even though there are possibly a handful of jellyfish, that are potentially dangerous to humans. On the other hand, the majority of those 2000 some species are generally harmless to us. Most of the Jellyfish spoke about in the previous paragraphs, are also saltwater species to add.
There are also jellyfish, that inhabit a variety of freshwater bodies, such as lakes and rivers. However the majority of these pose no potential threat to humans. They are also similar in color to the irridescent or clear jellies that we see floating along the shores edge during the early evening. These jellyfish also tend to give off a green phosphorescent glow at night.
So what do you do if stung, by one of these more deadly jellyfish species that could cause potential harm to you? The best thing is to try to remain calm for one, seek help from a friend or someone else at the beach to get you to the hospital right away, to seek proper medical treatment.
Most likely there will be a lifeguard at the beach you had been stung at, and they will have some sort of advanced medical kit. A medical kit made up with some appropriate creams or first aid within it, utilized specifically for stings made from a jellyfish.. There are also no real known anecdotes to all stings; that are received from some of the most deadliest jellyfish in the world.
First aid for a box jellyfish for example, would include dousing the area where stung with pure vinegar. Soaking this area including the tentacles for ten minutes or more until medical help arrives. Also if an ace bandage is handy, it can be wrapped around the area where you have been stung.
If the sting is on the arms or legs, it can be wrapped tightly enough, so it does not cut off the complete flow of blood to this area. The purpose of this is to slow down the amount of toxins moving through the blood stream. If pain killers are available, such as Motrin or Aleve, take these every eight hours, to help alleviate the pain.
Also 325 mg. tablets of Tylenol, taken every four to six hours does the job also. Keep in mind that if someone knows CPR, it should be initiated immediately if someone stops breathing on their own.
Shaving cream or a baking soda paste can be applied to the area where tentacles, and nematocysts have come into contact with the skin. After doing so, shave the area, so the nematocysts and tentacles that may be embedded there, can be removed accordingly, by shaving them away. If vinegar, is handy than apply after shaving the area. Also vinegar should be applied before applying shaving cream as well.
For all other types of jellyfish stings that are not that of the Box, or Irundaji jellyfish, soak the area with acetic acid, or vinegar as mentioned. Doing this for fifteen to thirty minutes will stop the nematocysts from releasing their toxins.
Remember it is the nematocysts themselves, embedded at the end of the tentacles, and not the tentacles of jellyfish, that produce the toxin that cause the resulting pain. If you have 70% isopropyl alcohol handy besides acetic acid or vinegar soak both together in the nearby sea water. It is also important to keep in mind, that fresh water will cause jellyfish nematocysts to release their toxins. Also applying a cold pack or applying hot water to the area will cause a continued release of toxins.
To add, do not rub the area where you have been stung by a jellyfish. This in turn cause the nematocysts to release toxins. One item that is available in most pharmacies, is called Safe Sea Jellyfish After-Sting pain relief gel. Like aloe gel it is very soothing to the skin. This is an item that like sun block can be taken to the beach. And in the event of being stung by a jellyfish, can be utilized.
When it comes to emergencies, most of us are never prepared. Unexpected accidents, and situations beyond our comprehension can occur quickly and without reason. That is why it is good to know before going to an unfamiliar area, to snorkel,swim, or whatever it may be.
The chances are that we do not have at our disposal all of the medical remedies mentioned here within this article. It is so much easier and safer when swimming and exploring an unfamiliar body of water, to know what species of marine creature or creatures; could be lurking out there beyond the shoreline and waves, waiting to cause unintentional harm.
So in the future, before going on a beach outing, where deadly creatures reside, will give us a clear conscious, but that added piece of security, knowing that something that we cannot always see, could literally sting the life out of us.
Giant Echizen Jellyfish
K S Lane from Melbourne, Australia on December 26, 2017:
Really informative hub. I had no idea that there were so many types of jelly fish!