Big Jelly – jellyfish in California

Big Jelly – jellyfish in California – Brief Article

Miguel Vilar

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?

COPYRIGHT 1999 Scholastic, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group