Jellyfish: The Florida Five

by: Davis Yancy Clegg

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish


Recently, we’ve discussed how the media’s portrayal of sharks – particularly the great white – in the movie “Jaws” has distorted the general public’s view of sharks as a species. While there’s no real need to be on the lookout for sharks in the water, there is one group of troublemakers that go unnoticed rather easily. Jellyfish are mainly such a threat because their movement is hard to predict. In whichever direction the might flow, it is entirely dependent on the current of the waters they inhabit. In that sense, their movement isn’t all that different from our own. They don’t choose to go in any certain direction. The tides shift them whichever way it pleases. In mankind’s journey through its existence, life’s own version of tides is known to us as happenings. Things happen to us, and we find ourselves moving with the flow – just trying to stay “afloat.”

Portuguese Man'o War

Portuguese man o’ war

Most people that have had an incident involving a jellyfish sting are either unaware of its’ presence near their location, or it happens from a curious cat scenario. We all know how well curiosity has served the cat. On the beaches located along the Florida coast, there are 5 distinct species of Jellyfish one might encounter. The first of which is the Moon Jellyfish. The Moon jellyfish is one of the 5 that can be found in just about every single body of ocean water on the planet. While beach goers prefer to see most jelly fish on the beach where they are stationary and unoffensively, there’s no need to hold any resentment towards the Moon jelly. It is harmless where humans are concerned.

By-the-Wind Saylor Jellyfish

Our next look in jellies will be into the Portuguese man o’ war and the By-the-Wind Sailor. By far, the coolest names bestowed upon any creatures of the sea. Oddly, these two jelly fish are is no jellyfish at all. Jellyfish are typically classified as such because of their cellular makeup, only consisting of single multi-cellular organisms. You can see the large sack at the rear of our Portuguese friend the man o’ war, which serves as a wind sail. The By-the-Wind Sailor navigates the open sea in the same fashion. Consequently, we often see these species on the beach. With tentacles up to 90 feet long active even after death, those lucky enough to see one should NEVER touch the creature, dead or alive. They are both quite venomous. Yet, only the man o’ war is dangerous to humans.

Cannonball Jellyfish

Cannonball Jellyfish

Finishing off the lineup of Florida’s 5 common species of jellyfish are the Cannonball and the Atlantic Sea Nettle. The Cannonball jellyfish -thankfully- is another species of jellies that is of little or no threat whatsoever to humans who may come into contact with the creature. However, its’ nematocysts contain a certain type of toxin that acts as a perimeter of defense against predators, and quite effectively. We don’t necessarily like to play favorites when it comes to the creatures of the vast blue, but the Leather-back sea turtle considers the Cannonball jellyfish to be quite a delicacy, and doesn’t show virtually any sign of

Atlantic Sea Nettle

Atlantic Sea Nettle

weakness to the species’ toxin. The Atlantic Sea Nettle can be found just as its name would lead us to believe. It thrives in the more tropic regions of the “pond” separating the U. S. from the European territories. One peculiarity of the Nettle is that it feeds on other jellies. Not true jellyfish mind you, but comb jellies. Its predatory mechanism is its’ cnidocytes. It has literally thousands of these microscopic, venomous weapons on each of its tentacles. While not as debilitating as the Portuguese man o’ war, this jellyfish can leave you with quite the painful rash if humans are the recipient of the cnidocytes venom.

Regardless of the species, be mindful of these sneaky sea creatures as the harmful once are just as dangerous to humans dead on the beach as they are alive in the ocean. Simply keeping your wits about you and keeping an eye on the waters where our young ones swim can prevent an otherwise joyful weekend from becoming a vacation in paradise’s local Urgent Care medical center.

You can always avoid these drifters altogether by being out in the saltwater aboard one of our informative and jellyfish-free tours! Contact our offices to book your seat on the next available cruise today! Summer cruises are selling out daily!




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