Notice the rhythmic pulsations of the polyp? A strange phenomenon, difficult to observe without time lapse. It’s likely used to pump nutrients throughout the colony.
There’s nothing quite like sitting in from of a tank full of jellies, watching their peaceful rhythmic movements as the time slips quietly by. For most of us, such encounters are few and far between, but thanks to explore.org, it’s now possible to sit back, relax, and watch beautiful Japanese sea nettles any time, any where:
Most jellies release eggs and sperm into the water as they swim, which means males and females never have a chance to meet. But one box jelly species, Carybdea sivickisi, had evolved a more intimate attraction. The males literally catch and reel in females using long tentacles. Once a male has a female in his grasp, he pukes up a sperm packet to give her (jellies only have one opening, which is an all-purpose anatomy for getting things in and out). After the male pukes up this sperm packet, the lady jelly takes hold of it tenderly, and eats it. The sperm go inside her gut, and ultimately fertilize her eggs, which she spits out a few days later. Wanna read more, hear more, and even see more about these feisty little jellies? Check out this fantastic article by Christine Hoekenga, brought to you by the Smithsonian Institute:
The famous line uttered by Joe from Friends echoes down through jelly lore:
But is that really all it takes? Does urine really help with a jellyfish sting? From first hand experience I can tell you pee don’t do much, which is why I was thrilled to find a paper all about pee, meat tenderizer and other urban legends of the jellyfish sting world.
Jellyfish contain thousands of stinging cells on their tentacles, termed nematocytes (or cnidocytes). These cells each fire a long barb on contact, which injects venome into skin like a hypodermic needle. And believe me, these things are no joke:
But during a jelly sting, many of these cells get stuck on human skin unfired. According to jelly sting rumors, sting treatments like vinegar, urin and meat tenderizer break up these cells before they have a chance to inject their toxin.
In this study  two brave scientists willingly exposed themselves to sea wasps (Chiropsalmus quadrumanus) and Atlantic stinging nettles (Chrysaora quinquecirrha). For 20 days straight each authors placed a tentacle on their inner arm, followed by a particular treatment, and then rated the pain. Surprisingly, many of the most common treatments, like vinegar, alcohol and ammonia actually made the pain * worse*, not better. Pee, distilled water and meat tenderizer had no effect (as an aside: how awesome is it that these authors stung themselves and doused the sting with pee ALL FOR SCIENCE!). So, what did work? Pain killers. Doh. After all this magic-potion-vinegar-pee brouhaha, it turns out that regular o’ lidocaine really is the way to go. But lidocaine doesn’t just make the pain go away, it actually prevents the undischarged stinging cells from firing. Other methods like vinegar and meat tenderizer can then be used to remove the cells (on their own, vinegar, alcohol, ammonia and meat tenderizer actually cause massive discharge of thousands of stinging cells, rather than breaking them down).
And as for Monica, how did she fare? I choose to believe they’re all happy and subdued after a healthy dose of lidocaine and a rescued day at the beach. (or is that perhaps shame after reading this post?)
 Evaluation of the effects of various chemicals on discharge of and pain caused by jellyfish nematocysts
The mauve stinger jelly is one of my favorite jelly species, but it is also the only reason I’ve ever intentionally peed on myself. Which is why this amazing photograph by Mare Nostrum brings both feelings of wonder and horror:
The beauty of this jelly is suggested from afar, but these stunning close-ups show it off in full detail:
For more beautiful photos of Mediterranean jelly species, check out Mare Nostrum’s website:
And for the record, as a biologist and human being, I do not recommend peeing on yourself (or letting anyone else pee on you) after a jelly sting. It doesn’t help the sting, and now you’ve got pee on you.
The first time I saw jellyfish on a menu I thought it was slang for something else. Like dragon noodles. Clearly you are not ordering noodles made out of dragon (that would be unethical). As I learned the hard way, it was in fact the real deal. But before I tell you what jellyfish tastes like, check out where all these jellies are coming from:
Jellies are a beloved treat in China, where they’ve been noshed in many a tasty dish for over a thousand years . In fact, jellyfishing is big business in some parts of the word. Like Georgia.
Yes, that’s Georgia the state. Jellyfish are in fact Georgia’s third largest fishing industry. “Jellyballs” is what locals call jellyfish, particularly the cannonball jellyfish Stomolophus meleagris. Winter weather means an end for shrimping, but for a few intrepid fisherman, it’s the start of jelly time.A lone Georgia processing plant handles 60,000 lb of jellyfish at a time, then exports the jellies to Japan and China . Check out this great radio short on Georgia jellyballing . While jellyfish may not be the most nutritious noms, they’re certainly very filling. Look! 1 cup of dried jellyfish only has 21 calories! For me, my restaurant jellyfish tasted like soy sauce and balloon. The soy sauce flavor came from soy sauce, with the jelly adding that scrumptious balloony quality. Definitely an acquired taste. Personally, I prefer my jellynoms deep fried…
Jellyfish Tempura – A Japanese classic
About 200g salted jellyfish
Sunflower oil, for deep frying
25g plain flour
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
A pinch of salt
100ml of fresh, ice cold soda water
1. Rinse the salted jellyfish under cold running water for 5 minutes. Then place in a bowl and add boiling water. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Drain, cut into chunks about 2 centimetres across and dry thoroughly by rolling in kitchen roll and squeezing.
2. Sift the cornflour, flour and salt together in a bowl, add the sesame seeds and stir in the soda water to make a thin batter (the soda water must be fizzy for best results).
3. Dip the chunks of jellyfish into the batter and drop them in the hot sunflower oil to fry for around 1 minute. The batter should expand and crisp up to a golden colour. Lift out and allow to drain. Serve with a sweet chilli or soy dipping sauce.
 Jellyﬁsh as food
 Coastal Georgia shrimpers turn to jellyfish to make money
 US Jellyfish Land on Asian Dinner Tables