If like me you spend time walking beaches, during the summer months you may have noticed some shiny ‘blobs’ nestled in the sand along the shoreline.
On seeing Rich’s to-be launched photography range, where the beauty of these creatures can be clearly seen, the contrast and sadness of seeing them dead on the beach - looking like nothing more than a shiny, slimy blob - I thought I would learn a little more about them. They do come in all shapes and sizes, but here are a couple that Rich has been able to photograph.
A Compass Jellyfish – so called because the stripes resemble the points on a compass. You can clearly see the white tentacles – these are the things that sting you, and the brown coloured frilly fronds called Oral Arms, which they use to move captured prey to their mouth. Their sting is moderately painful, so try to avoid!
Photo credit; Rich White
A Barrell Jellyfish, one of the largest, and found all around the UK, but perhaps more predominantly in the south west.
Another name for these is Dustbin lid jellyfish (because they can get quite large – up to one metre wide!
Despite their size their sting is mild. Photo credit; Rich White
Jellyfish, the layman’s term for these ‘blobs’, (a member of the Scyphozoa class of plankton-like marine life) generally have no way of propelling themselves and so get moved around in the oceans as the tides ebb and flow. At high tide, or during a storm they will often get swept onto the beach. At times of blooms (when jellyfish reproduce) the quantity of washed-up jellyfish may increase, and you are more likely to see smaller, young ones.
Jellyfish have no brain, or spine, and only very minimal neurological activity.
Many of them eat and poop through a single opening.
The strength of their sting varies, so it’s always good be wary if you spot one, and they can even sting you once washed up and dead!
They are an important part of the marine food chain, and smaller creatures will often hide under the bell, away from their own natural predators. They are also food for other marine life; sharks, tuna, swordfish, tortoise, and penguins are among some of the jellyfish’s predators. And this is one of the areas where our pollution of the seas can cause problems. Clear plastic can mimic the appearance of a jellyfish and is often mistaken for food. Not only does the plastic provide zero nutrients to the marine life consuming it, it will also fill the stomach giving a sensation that the animal is full. Plastic is also going to cause blockages in the digestive system. This is a very clear example where marine life are dying as a direct result of our pollution of their home.
Dispelling THE myth;
If you do get stung by a jellyfish, weeing on the sting will bring you no relief. The best way to deal with it is to rinse off the affected area, with sea water, and if possible, remove any visible tentacles with tweezers. Then resort to good old topical pain relief! Thankfully the most usual jellyfish to be found around Anglesey and the UK in general, don’t deliver dangerous levels of toxins, though it is still unpleasant to be stung by one.
Dispelling the OTHER myth!
The Portuguese Man o’War is not a jellyfish. It is a Siphonophores, yes indeed, which is made up of a colony of individual animals each with a distinct role in the survival of the combined unit – ie floating, capturing prey, eating, and reproduction (1).
Their sting will paralyse small fish, and can cause humans significant pain. Fortunately, they’re not usually seen around UK shores.
Photo credit; [IG]@manusanfelix - Manu San Félix
The By-the-wind-sailor is another smaller
Siphonophores and has a dinky little sail
atop, to capture the wind, which then
propels it – hence its name (2).
Photo credit: Jessica M Winder
If you want to know more about jellyfish that can be seen in UK waters, then below is a link to a source of information (3) and jellyfish in general (4).
Jellyfish are interesting creatures; here we have touched the tip of the iceberg! They come in an array of sizes, colours, patterns, and sting strength. So next time you’re on the beach and see one of these shiny blobs, see if you can identify it. And please keep your plastics in a bag until you can get to a bin to safely dispose of them!
Rich’s sealife photography will be available in store soon!
by Jo Evans, for Seapig