Thursday, August 2, 2012


Wow, I am just a busy bee! I've been in and out of the lab for the past two days quite a lot. I guess it's a positive thing. Working more than 1-2 hours a day was getting pretty old, I have to say. But now everything is picking up and I'm pretty sure it's just going to get worse and worse. Well, I enjoyed it while I could!
Let's talk about something that I can get happy about. What about jellyfish? Yeah, let's do that. Anyone who has seen them knows they aren't the cutest marine organism ever, but they have a cute name, right? Not a cute reputation, however. They are known for their awful sting! Thankfully I can say I've never been stung by a jellyfish. Yes, I am very lucky. I had quite a close encounter, but not a sting.

Moon Jellyfish.
I was in the waters of St. Maarten snorkeling, minding my own business. Usually when you snorkel, you're looking downward to the ocean floor admiring the reefs and such. Thank goodness I looked up at one point and saw a small-ish jellyfish the size of a ping pong ball floating just inches from my face! Scary, much? My reflexes turned and twisted me past the highly feared creature with ease.
Some jellyfish are more venomous than others. Some don't even sting. Like the moon jellies. They can sting, but it can't penetrate our skin. That's good news, right? The moon jellyfish are pretty popular in aquariums and zoos. If you go to an aquarium to see jellyfish, you're bound to see these guys. 
What happens when a jellyfish stings you? How does it all work? How can you treat jellyfish stings? Can you die from a jellyfish sting? I know you'll be asking these questions, since I'm a mindreader. Don't worry, your questions will hopefully be answered!
1) How does a jellyfish sting work? Great question. It's all a really cool process if you ask me! On a jelly's tentacles, there are multitudes of cnidoblasts which contain nematocysts. These nematocysts are triggered when an object (or a human) comes across them. Like a bullet bursting out of a gun, stinging thread comes out of the nematocyst into your skin. This then releases all the toxins into your body, which is the part when you start feeling that awful burning sensation and regretting ever jumping into the ocean for a quick swim. Now you know.
2) The next thing you want to know once you get stung: How do you treat a sting? There are a few rumored ways to treat stings. Some more appealing than others. The least appealing, I would say in my opinion, would be urine. It may be the easiest way to treat a sting, but definitely not the most attractive option. Sometimes urine won't help because there might not be any acid in it, so it's a hit and miss. Some say hot water, like over 100 degrees, can help. The standard and most popular treatment of stings is distilled vinegar. So keep that in mind if (or when) you get stung!
3) After trying to treat your sting, you might be sitting there in pain and wondering if you could die from this. Well, I'd now like to tell you about the most venomous jellyfish (and most venomous animal) in the world: the box jellyfish. 
The box jellyfish has killed over 5,000 people, on record, since 1954. Its sting is extremely venomous. Extremely. And when I say extremely, I mean extremely. So if you're stung by a box jellyfish, get to the hospital. ASAP. 
You may say, "Oh, I'll just be on the lookout for them next time I'm in the ocean. I'll be fine...right?" Hate to burst your bubble, but the box jellies are virtually transparent. And some species are extremely small. Some can get really big, like up to 10 feet long. These guys are found in the South Pacific, so I'm good. I don't know about you guys in northern Australia, though...


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