Image:Flower hat jelly by I, KENPEI [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Jellyfish. I am not a fan. Every year my family vacations on Kiawah Island, which is off the coast of S.C. about thirty miles south of Charleston. The beach is lovely, but usually peppered with the carcasses of these slimy scourges. My children love playing in the waves and I do join them, reluctantly. When I was in my twenties, I brushed against a jellyfish in those waters, and the pain is something I have not forgotten.
Here are some interesting things about these cringe-worthy critters from Wikipedia:
1. They've been lurking in our seas for somewhere between 500 to 700 million years, making them the oldest multi-organ animal.
2. A group of jellyfish can be called a bloom, swarm, or smack.
Image: Lion's Mane Jelly by Dan Hershman http://www.flickr.com/photos/hershman/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hershman/253773774/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3. They range in size from 1 mm to 2 m (6.6 ft). The longest jellyfish, the lion's mane jellyfish, have thread-like tentacles that can be 37 m or 120 ft long. (See image above.) The giant Nomura's jellyfish can weigh up to 200 kg (440 lbs)!
4. They have one opening for both eating and expelling waste. (shudder)
5. Jellyfish populations are growing because of overfishing which decreases the number of their predators. They also eat plankton that contains fish eggs and larvae, reproduce rapidly, and grow fast.
Image: Rehydrated jellyfish strips prepared with soy sauce and sesame oil by Roland from (optional) (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
7. The effect of a jellyfish sting on a person can range from tingling to intense pain to death. To avoid dying from a sea wasp sting in Australia, wear pantyhose. This jellyfishes' tentacles are activated by chemicals on human skin. Pantyhose blocks their detection of these chemicals.
8. What do you do if you're stung at the beach? Wash with fresh, cold water or ice it down? WRONG! This can actually cause any nematocysts (stinging cells) in your skin to release more venom. Similarly, you shouldn't reach for rubbing alcohol, or have someone pee on you (old wive's tale).
Vinegar is a better bet. Meat tenderizer might work, but you shouldn't leave it on your skin for more than 10 minutes and should not use this remedy for babies, young kids, or anyone with sensitive skin. Also take an antihistamine.
Have you ever been stung by a jellyfish? Would you consider eating one?