FASCINATING BEAUTIES OF THE SEA
Actually, they are not that unusual finds, and yet they always cause horror. The sight of a graceful swarm of media floating past can be quite breathtaking. Jellyfish are true survivors. They are among the oldest animals in the history of the earth. Due to their adaptability, they were able to survive 500 million years of evolution, that is, they appeared several million years before the first dinosaurs. Their weapons are the tentacles covered with stinging cells, with which they catch plankton or small fish. These nettle cells function like tiny harpoons that pierce the prey’s skin and inject the jellyfish venom in the process.
Jellyfish are some of the most poisonous marine life. While all jellyfish are poisonous, not all are dangerous to humans. Scientists refer to the transparent beauties as plankton because, despite swimming movements, they are mainly driven by the current. Spherical, cube-shaped, umbrella-like and in different colors they populate the oceans and consist of almost 99 percent water.
The increased occurrence of jellyfish is due to the prevailing climate change, because, in contrast to many other animals, the jellyfish benefit from it and therefore find their way into the Mediterranean more and more often to spread there. The massive overfishing of almost 90 percent of the fish stocks also ensures that the predators and food competitors of the jellyfish are missing.
THE MOST FAMOUS JELLYFISH IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Probably the most famous jellyfish in the Mediterranean is the Cotylorhiza tuberculata, a species of jellyfish from the tribe of Cnidaria, which is also known as the fried egg jellyfish due to its appearance and shape. The scientific name is derived from the Greek words “κοντύλι” for cup and “ρίζα” for root.
The fried egg jellyfish has a whitish umbrella, with a diameter of up to 35 centimeters, and a yellow elevation in the middle, reminiscent of the yolk of a fried egg. It has eight central and many small arms that end in purple button-like thickenings. This jellyfish accompanies many small fish because they find protection in the nettle threads. Its geographic distribution mainly includes the areas of the western Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean, mainly in the Aegean and Adriatic.
It lives near the surface of the water and is one of the few species of jellyfish that does not need a current to move, it can actually move around completely independently. This is usually only found in very few species of jellyfish. A typical full-grown fried egg jellyfish has a diameter of 35 cm, although it can reach a diameter of 50 cm and has a lifespan of approx. 6 – 9 months.
JELLYFISH HAVE NO BRAIN
Jellyfish have a nervous system, they have sensory organs, but no brain. If the jellyfish loses a tentacle or part of its umbrella, these can be reconstructed thanks to the super cells. To do this, the cell first reverts to an embryonic stage and then transforms into a new cell type. Jellyfish reproduce asexually. Before it dies, it secretes planular vans that stick to the ground. These then develop into polyps which over time develop into Ephyra larvae. Over time, the larvae become medusa and the cycle starts all over again.
In general, the medusas also have natural enemies such as the tuna, the swordfish and the sea turtle Caretta caretta and dolphins also hunt them. With their alien appearance, jellyfish are notorious for their stinging nature and are feared by humans and other marine life alike. But touching Cotylorhiza tuberculata is relatively harmless to both humans and young fish. Even if the nettle poison has little effect on healthy people, it is always unpleasant.
FIRST AID FOR JELLYFISH STING
It is advisable to leave the water immediately upon contact with the nettle poison of the jellyfish. If you come into contact with jellyfish, threads often remain on the skin. For rinsing it is best to use only salt water, alcohol or vinegar. It is also helpful to dry the threads with sand and then rub them with a plastic card such as a credit card. Then you should cool the area.
Baking soda is an equally good home remedy that blocks the poison. Under no circumstances should one wash with fresh water or try to rub the area with a towel or with bare hands, otherwise the remaining nettle capsules could burst and the symptoms worsen. If the symptoms do not subside or even worsen, you should definitely go to the doctor so that he disinfects the skin so that it itches less and does not become inflamed.