In Which They’ll Outlive Us All

jellyfish4.jpg

Science Corner Volume XIV: Beware Of The Blob

by Molly Lambert

If you’ve known me long enough I have at some point told you my thoughts on jellyfish. How I think they are the most terrifying creatures on earth because of their primitivism (“they’ll outlive us all!”) and the fact that they have eyes without a brain. Well it turns out I was right to worry about our faceless neighbors in the sea.

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YUM YUM EAT ‘EM UP!

A jellyfish detects the touch of other animals using a nervous system called a “nerve net”, located in its epidermis. Touch stimuli are conducted by nerve rings, through the rhopalial lappet, located around the animal’s body, to the nerve cells. Jellyfish also have ocelli: light-sensitive organs that do not form images but are used to determine up from down, responding to sunlight shining on the water’s surface.

We told you of the jellyfish with 12 heads that scientists made for fun.

The Five Blobs

COME INTO MY ORAL ARMS

Turns out eutrophication makes them breed harder. Ahhhh!

More bad news:

Recently, Japan has clashed with China on a number of issues. China has blocked Japan’s efforts to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The two countries have conflicting claims to offshore natural gas deposits. They are also at odds over China’s pollution, which pours acid rain down on Japan’s forests and feeds a growing population of giant, yard-wide jellyfish in the Sea of Japan.

How about some giant jellyfish sashimi? Mmmm…gluey.

The Adventure Of The Lion’s Mane

FUUUUUUUUUUCK THEY’RE UNSTOPPABLE

The problem with combating the jellyfish is that when they are under attack or killed, they release billions of sperm or eggs which connect in the water and attach to rocks or coral formations. when the conditions are favorable, the creatures detach from their home millions at a time and grow into more jellyfish.

Star Jelly?

WHERE IS YOUR CREATIONIST GOD NOW?

Growing up to 2 m (6 ft 7 feet) in diameter and weighing up to 200kg (440 lb), Nomura’s Jellyfish reside primarily in the waters between China and Japan, primarily centralized in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea where they spawn. Nomura’s Jellyfish (エチゼンクラゲ echizen kurage, Nemopilema nomurai) is a very large Japanese jellyfish. It is in the same size class as the lion’s mane jellyfish, the largest cnidarian in the world.

This pic is not a photoshop joke.

Irukandji are the scary tiny jellyfish that can kill you.

SUPER BLOBS

The problem has become so serious that fishery officials from Japan, China and South Korea are to meet this month for a “jellyfish summit” to discuss strategies for dealing with the invasion. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has formed a jellyfish countermeasures committee and fishermen are at work on technology to keep the marauders out of their nets.

The beautiful but deadly Moon Jellies

Moooooooooooooooooon Jellies

And it’s not just in Japan where this is happening, it’s all over the place. The jellyfish will not stop breeding and blooming. I have to pin this one on Global Warmthing. We are so so fucked. Nothing but jellyfish.

Jellyfish are an unusual ingredient of Japanese cuisine but are much more prized in China. Coastal communities are doing their best to promote jellyfish as a novelty food, sold dried and salted. Students in Obama have managed to turn them into tofu, and jellyfish collagen is reported to be beneficial to the skin.

Obama is fucking everywhere!

“Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” – Martha Wainwright (mp3)

CTHULHU? IS THAT ULULU?

As if jellyfish weren’t terrifying enough, there is a kind of jellyfish that is IMMORTAL. It can apparently “transdifferentiate” itself, meaning it matures sexually and then regresses back to a jellychild polyp! And it can just do that forever. It can, however be killed. Tess is looking into getting some right now to inject in her glands. She is serious about beating old age. Maybe we should start collecting Hydras too. They don’t age and are also effectively immortal.

Hydra is a small animal with a body length ranging from 1 mm to 20 mm when fully extended. It has a tubular body secured by a simple adhesive foot called the basal disc. Gland cells in the basal disc secrete a sticky fluid that allows for its adhesive properties. At the free end of the body is a mouth opening surrounded by a ring of five to twelve thin, mobile tentacles. Each tentacle, or cnida (plural: cnidae), is clothed with highly specialised stinging cells called cnidocytes.

H.P. Lovecraft would luv these ancient immortal underwater creepies

Many members of the Hydrozoa go through a body change from a polyp to an adult form called a medusa. However, all hydras remain as a polyp throughout their lives. BLEURGH.

Cnidocytes contain specialized structures called nematocysts which look like miniature light bulbs with a coiled thread inside. At the narrow outer edge of the cnidocyte is a short trigger hair. Upon contact with prey, the contents of the nematocyst are explosively discharged, firing a dart-like thread containing neurotoxins into whatever triggered the release. To humans, this poses a nuisance at worst; however, to some prey, this strike can be paralyzing.

When food is plentiful, many hydras reproduce asexually by producing buds in the body wall which grow to be miniature adults and simply break away when they are mature. When conditions are harsh, often before winter or in poor feeding conditions, sexual reproduction occurs in some hydras. Swellings in the body wall develop into either a simple ovary or testes.

“Eyeball Kid” – Tom Waits (mp3)

Hydras: “I’m sticking with you. Cause I’m made out of glue.”

The testes release free swimming gametes into the water and these can fertilise the egg in the ovary of another individual. The fertilized eggs secrete a tough outer coating and, as the adult dies, these resting eggs fall to the bottom of the lake or pond to await better conditions, whereupon they hatch into miniature adults. Hydras are hermaphrodites and may produce both testes and an ovary at the same time.

Copepods, which jellies love to eat, are sometimes terrifying parasites.

When feeding, hydras extend their body to maximum length and then slowly extend their tentacles. Despite their simple construction, the tentacles of hydras are extraordinarily extensible and can be four to five times the length of the body. Once fully extended, the tentacles are slowly manoeuvred around waiting for contact with a suitable prey animal. Upon contact, nematocysts on the tentacle fire into the prey and the tentacle itself coils around the prey. Within 30 seconds most of the remaining tentacles will have already joined in the attack to subdue the struggling prey.

A parasitic copepod. Sweet dreams!

Within two minutes, the tentacles will have surrounded the prey and moved it into the opened mouth aperture. Within ten minutes, the prey will have been enclosed within the body cavity and digestion will have started. The hydra is able to stretch its body wall considerably in order to digest prey more than twice its size. After two or three days, the indigestible remains of the prey will be discharged by contractions through the mouth aperture. The feeding behaviour of the hydra demonstrates the sophistication of what appears to be a simple nervous system.

Bloop! Itsa Me, Super Mario Jelly

Hydras eat Cyclops and Daphnia.

HYDRA MORPHALLAXIS POWERS ACTIVATE

“The Water (live on KCRW)” – Feist (mp3)

After fertilization and initial growth, a larval form, called the planula, develops from the egg. The planula is a small larva covered with cilia. It settles onto a firm surface and develops into a polyp. The polyp is cup-shaped with tentacles surrounding a single orifice, resembling a tiny sea anemone. After an interval of growth, the polyp begins reproducing asexually by budding and is called a segmenting polyp, or a scyphistome. New scyphistomae may be produced by budding or new, immature jellies called ephyra may be formed. Many jellyfish species are capable of producing new medusae by budding directly from the medusan stage.

NEW AGE CONDOMS OF THE SEA

Portugeuse Man O’Wars are so scary it’s funny.

Chondrophores

used new age sea condom

Sea Wasps are different from jellyfish. They’re cubeoid.

The 400 Year Old Mollusk

The oldest single living organisms are bristlecone Pines.

Molly Lambert is the senior science columnist at This Recording.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

Whither The Hexapus?

Slutty Females Of The Animal Kingdom

Bonecrushing Wolves

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19 thoughts on “In Which They’ll Outlive Us All

  1. The two things that have me looking into jellyfish proof bunkers are:
    – jellies make up at least a third of the oceans’ entire biomass.
    – some kinds of jellyfish are hunters tracking their prey and killing them.
    I just hope they stay in the water.

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