Big Jelly – jellyfish in California – Brief Article
Move over Jaws, here comes Big Jelly! Last summer, California swimmers dropped their jaws at the sight of this purple-black monster jellyfish. Known only by its species name, Chrysaora achlyos (kris-AH-oh-rah ACK-lee-us), the creature sported 9-meter (30-foot)-long tentacles riddled with stinging cells called cnidocytes (NYE-doh-sites). The cells release instant poison on contact. The jellyfish’s umbrella-shaped body stretched 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter.
Thousands of huge jellyfish, some of nature’s eeriest invertebrates (animals without backbones), plagued U.S. beaches in 1999. Why? “It’s probably a current and wind issue,” says Claudia Mills, marine biologist at Friday Harbor Labs in San Juan Island, Wash. Recent wind and current shifts carried these pelagic (deep-ocean floating or swimming) critters close to shore. “Hot and dry weather also seems to favor them,” adds Mills. Glad you weren’t stung?
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