The summer days are getting shorter, and the greens are turning pale and yellow, the pallet of fall coming to life. But August is one of my favorite months to go to the beach. The water is warm, and the sun is not brutally hot. This is also a prime season for one sea creature that loves warm water, the jellyfish.
Since we started the Seababies series, we’ve learned interesting facts about each creature featured in the series. In one of the books, Cupcake is a cute jellyfish. Someone asked me what type of jellyfish. I couldn’t address this question, so I did a little more research. I learned that jellyfish are found worldwide, and swim close to the surface as well as deep in the sea. They come in various shapes and colors. Large, colorful ones abound along coastlines.
These prehistoric creatures lack organs vital to humans: a heart, lung, and brain. They absorb oxygen through their thin skin, and since they don’t have blood, they don’ need a heart to pump it. Nerves below the outer layer of their skin are sensitive to touch and let them be aware of changes in their environment, so they don’t need a brain to do this.
The teeth a beroid comb jelly uses to devour its prey are made up of tiny hairs that pull the food into the jellyfish’s stomach.
A jellyfish’s stinging cells hurt, and thousands of swimmers are injured by them yearly, so you need to be careful when in the water. There are some species whose poison can cause serious harm or even death. Don’t dive or put your face into the water if you notice them. Unfortunately, many times you can’t see them, because they may be indistinguishable from the color of the water.
If you do ever get stung by one, stay calm and get out of the water slowly. The movement of the salt water around you helps to remove the tentacles and without them releasing more toxins. Rinse the affected area with sea water if any parts of the tentacle remain when you get back on land. Avoid using fresh water, and don’t rub the area. An old home remedy is to rinse the area with vinegar or baking soda for around 30 seconds. But this is not medical advice. Always check with a medical professional. If you get stung near your eyes or have an allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately.
Interesting Tidbits about Jellyfish
- The medusa stage of a jellyfish is when it is sexually active. They are fast-growing at this point, but die soon after breeding. With their bell and tentacles hanging off them, jellyfish get the name of “medusa” after the Greek Gorgon, who had writhing snakes for her hair. The goddess Athena cursed Medusa into this form. One look at Medusa and a person turned to stone, even after her head had been cut off.
- When I’m busy, I wish I could create a second version of myself. A cool thing about jellyfish is that they can do that. If you cut one in half, the pieces will become two new jellies.
- Have you ever dreamed of visiting the moon? A moonfish jellyfish beat you to it, as one was aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1991. It was an experiment to see how microgravity affected the creature. While it was cruising around outer space, the jellyfish multiplied. Upon returning to Earth, the new jellyfish were unable to deal with gravity.
- Every morning I have to spend an hour dealing with my tangled curls. I wonder if I can discover the jellyfish’s secret. Even though some have long tentacles, they never get tangled up or sting them. That’s because the tentacles are slippery and only sting other creatures and other species of jellyfish.
- The lion’s mane jellyfish has tentacles that are more than 27 meters long (88 feet). That’s longer than a blue whale! It sounds like a Rupentzel of the sea. If the Seababies home in MerrowLand has a tower, our jellyfish Cupcake could lower her tentacles down the side and reach the ground.
- Noun collectives are fun to discover. Interesting ones are a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows or a cloud of cats. But groups of jellyfish have even better names: a bloom, a swarm, or a smack. They can congregate in numbers of to 300,000. I especially like the name bloom. It’s hard to imagine a bloom of this many colorful jellyfish moving in the water.
- Jellyfish are made up of around 85 to 98 percent water. I’ve seen them magically disappear on the sand in hours. Not that they are teleporting to another world, but they disappear as their water evaporates.
As you can see, our Cupcake is a member of a complex family. In our story Cupcake’s Heroic Day, she’s a brave master baker, who will take you and your kids into a magical adventure.
The Seababies Adventures was inspired by childhood challenges. Each story brings awareness to a problem holding the character back. The tales teach children to value friendships and teamwork and that it is okay to be unique. The power to change and succeed lies in their own hands.
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