Is it True that Moon Jellyfish Don't Sting?
Moon jellyfishes look great in their transparent circular bell. It seems impossible to believe that these creatures can sting. But make no mistake, Moon Jellyfish stings and that hurts.
Moon jellyfish stings are not fatal to humans. Infarct, their mild venom is not enough to seriously injure a full grown human being. The result of such stings is normally some pains and a small swollen spot.
Moon jellies belong to the genus Aurelia. There are 13 types of Moon Jellyfishes. All of them looks and behave almost the same. The most common species is Aurelia aurita.
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The circular transparent body of the jellyfish is its bell. There are four horseshoe-shaped gonads visible from the top of the bell. The disk can be 15 to 16 inches in diameter. They do not have a brain. There are networks of neurons which work automatically like a robot. About 95% of their body is nothing but water.
Moon jellies cannot move. They just drifted with the water currents. The currents tent to gather thousands of them near the coastal areas. Such gathering is known as a bloom.
They are carnivores. Small invertebrates are their principle prey. When these small sea creatures come near them they use the sting to make them motionless. So, the sting is their attack as well as defense weapon.
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They have many enemies. Ocean Sunfish or Mola mola loves to eat them. There are also Leatherback sea turtles. Some birds also attack their bell to eat small insects getting a free ride on top. To defend themselves from theses enemies, the moon jellies often uses their venomous stings.
How does a Moon Jelly Sting?
There are many thin strings like tentacles attached to the main body or bell of the Moon Jellyfish. Each tentacle has thousands of small attacking cells or cnidoblasts. The cnidoblast is like a cartridge of a gun. There is a trigger at the front. The cartridge contains a bullet or tubule. The hair like trigger is called a cnidocil. The cnidocil is chemically operated. Whenever a foreign living cell comes near it, it senses it chemically and fire bullet. The bullet uses mechanical energy as its propellant force. There is a coiled spring like thread attached to the tubule. The spring pushes the bullet outside to the target. The tubule or “bullet” contains mild venom. The venom is a neurotoxin which can kill the small sea animals.
Symptoms of Moon Jelly Stings
The symptoms of a moon jelly sting will be like these:
- Burning or stinging pain at the spot.
- A red or black spot on the point of contact.
- There will be itching on the spot.
- There will also be swelling.
- There can be allergic side effects in some people.
If you are stung by a moon jelly don’t panic. It can be painful but there is nothing to worry. Just follow the steps to cure it.
- At first, wash the skin with sea water. Do it to remove the remaining micro sized pieces of the jellyfish tentacles. Otherwise, there will be more stings penetrating the skin to make it worse.
- You can also use vinegar. It is useful to wash away the remaining stinger cells. There is a debate among experts regarding the usefulness of vinegar to treat jellyfish stings.
- To reduce the pain you can try Epsom salt. Mix it with some hot water and then use it on the sting site. It is also helpful to remove the remaining stinger cells.
- You can use an anti-inflammatory cream or other over the counter solutions to get quick results.
- Do not rub the spot with hand or towels. It will activate more stingers. Also do not try to use alcohol or urine as advised by some.
Moon Jellyfish is not that dangerous for us humans. But they can sting and so try to avoid them during swimming. It is easy to spot them as they remains at the sea surface.
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