Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jellyfish: Last Year There Were None, This Year They're Here Early

As Long Island Sound grows warmer in the future, one of the unfortunate results might be that its beaches will become less appealing for swimming because of jellyfish. University of Rhode Island scientists reported recently that the species composition in Rhode Island's waters has changed over 50 years because of warmer temperatures. They said southern New England's estuaries and coastal waters might be gradually becoming more like Chesapeake Bay.

People rarely swim in Chesapeake Bay, if my increasingly faulty memory is to be trusted, because there are too many jellies. And today there's a Stamford Advocate story about how swimmers are reporting that jellies have arrived earlier in the summer than usual.

Keep in mind though that it was just last year that observers were wondering why the Sound was relatively jellyfish-free until October (here and here).

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Blogger Sam said...

It does seem a little early in the season, but such blooms and currents do bring them in at times, and are not a "constant" population by any means. Interesting, the Lion's Mane is actually an arctic jellyfish not found much below 40 degrees of latitude, so Global Warming should drive them off, maybe?

The linked Stamford article was a little surprising in that many considered a Lion Mane's sting to be quite mild - I consider it up there with the Portuguese Man-O-War, since I have experience with both. But lo, a few sightings of the "blue bottle" Man-O-War can shut down entire beaches in an instant! How strange...

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Sam, you're correct about warmer temperatures reducing the lion's mane population. Their polyps, which are attached to the undersides of rocks and shells, stop budding and producing medusae (the life stage of the jellyfish that we all know and love) when the water temperature rises to approximately 57 deg F.

As for stinging power, I'd have to respectfully disagree. Although no one has ever died from the toxin in man-o-wars, people have been know to go into shock and drown. I've never heard of that with the lion's mane, other than in a Sherlock Holmes story where the victim had an allergic reaction.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I guess I see and run into so many Man-O-War they just don't strike fear like they used to. You're right they can be quite a shock. So perhaps it's what you're used to - not that getting zapped by a Man-O-War is pleasant. So agreed.

Here's a redneck method to reduce the jellyfish stinging if you're on a beach in the middle of nowhere, no vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, or the typical remedies. Never use freshwater. Pee. Figure it out yourself, but the chemistry in your urine is almost perfect.

Sorry Tom!

Funny, we haven't seen many Man-O-War this year in lower Texas except in the winter months. Not that I mind a bit. I walk the beach about 100 feet and if I see more than 3-4-5 sometimes I'll just stay out of the water. Dang Siphonophores ...

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

There's a harrowing scene in a good novel by Pete Dexter called The Paperboy in which the main character goes for a long swim in the ocean off Florida, and gets entangled in a man-o-war. Three women on the beach who witness the event happen to be nurses and they know there's only one way save him -- they have to pee on him.

10:46 PM  

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