« Archives in November, 2012

The root-arm medusa often settles on seaweeds and Zostera (eel grass)

Cladonema radiatum is a small anthomedusa whose dome-shaped umbrella reached 6 mm in diameter. The whitish manubrium which bears the gonads can be seen through the translucent umbrella. On the margin of the umbrella, there are generally eight elongated bulbs from where branched tentacules stretch out. Under each one of these bulbs, 1 to 4 stalked buttons are used to stick on the substratum. The root-arm medusa often settles on seaweeds and Zostera. Belonging to planktonic species, it has a hopping way of swimming, then it suddenly folds its tentacles and let itself fall. Present from June to October, it can be very abundant during warm periods and can cause tingling sensation to bathers. This little medusa is the sexual swimming form of a small hydroid living fixed to seaweeds, marine plants and rocks.

It is found in the North-Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea. It is also listed in Japan.

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Jellyfish Fossils…500 million years old

The oldest known fossils of jellyfish have been found in rocks in Utah that are more than 500 million years old, a new study reports.  The fossils are an unusual discovery because soft-bodied creatures, such as jellyfish, rarely survive in the fossil record, unlike animals with hard shells or bones.

“The fossil record is biased against soft-bodied life forms such as jellyfish, because they leave little behind when they die,” said study member Bruce Lieberman of the University of Kansas.

These jellyfish left their lasting imprint because they were deposited in fine sediment, rather than coarse sand. The film that the jellyfish left behind shows a clear picture, or “fossil snapshot,” of the animals.

“You can see a distinct bell-shape, tentacles, muscle scars and possibly even the gonads,” said study team member Paulyn Cartwright, also of KU.

The rich detail of the fossils allowed the team to compare the cnidarian (the phylum to which jellyfish, coral and sea anemones belong) fossils to modern jellyfish. The comparison confirmed that the fossils were, in fact, jellyfish and pushed the earliest known occurrence of definitive jellyfish back from 300 million to 505 million years ago.

The fossils also offer insights into the rapid species diversification that occurred during the Cambrian radiation, which began around 540 million years ago and when most animal groups start to show up in the fossil record, Lieberman said.

The complexity of these early jellyfish seems to suggest that either the complexity of modern jellyfish developed rapidly about 500 million years ago, or that jellyfish are even older and developed long before that time.

Image provided by the NY Times

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Heart can survive deadly box jellyfish

Friday, November 23, 2012 » Big Pond News (www.bigpondnews.com)

Human hearts can survive a potentially lethal box jellyfish sting, new research suggests.

Findings from James Cook University could change the way people are treated for the stings, which can kill a person in five minutes.

Researcher Stephanie Chaousis found that although the venom kills 70 per cent of human heart cells, which can be fatal, the cells fully recover after about four hours.

‘Previously it wasn’t known what part of the venom was fatal so I was able to isolate this part,’ Ms Chaousis, who has a bachelor of zoology, told AAP.

‘Typically people who have been stung are given CPR for about 20 minutes.

‘Now that we know there can be full cell recovery it could mean that if CPR is given until a person is put on a heart/lung machine this could potentially save lives.”

Queensland Tropical Health Alliance Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, who supervised the study, says the research could also be beneficial in heart transplant surgery as a heart needs to be temporarily stopped during the process.

‘Knowing that the component of the venom can cause a temporary heart standstill may lead to novel drug discovery in human heart transplants,’ he said.

Pharmaceutical companies have already shown interest in the research.

Box jellyfish use a dual-action venom that enables them to quickly stun and then kill their usual food source, such as shrimp and fish.

There have been 64 deaths in Australia attributed to box jellyfish stings in the past 130 years.

Here’s looking at you through the eyes of a Box Jellyfish

Tropical-dwelling box jellyfish have a cube-shaped body, and four different types of special purpose eyes: The most primitive set detects only light levels, but another is more sophisticated and can detect the color and size of objects. The Australian box jellyfish is also deadly; each of its up to 60 tentacles carries enough toxin to kill 60 people

A set of special eyes, similar to our own, keeps venomous box jellyfish from bumping into obstacles as they swim across the ocean floor, a new study finds.

Unlike normal jellyfish, which drift in the ocean current, box jellyfish are active swimmers that can rapidly make 180-degree turns and deftly dart between objects. Scientists suspect that box jellyfish are such agile because one set of their 24 eyes detects objects that get in their way.

“Behavior-wise, they’re very different from normal jellyfish,” said study leader Anders Garm of Lund University in Sweden.

Whereas we have one set of multi-purpose eyes that sense color, size, shape and light intensity, box jellyfish have four different types of special-purpose eyes. The most primitive set detects only light levels, but one set of eyes is more sophisticated and can detect the color and size of objects.

One of these eyes is located on the top of the cup-like structure, the other on the bottom, which provides the jellyfish with “an extreme fish-eye view, so it’s watching almost the entire underwater world,” said Garm, who will present his research at the Society of Experimental Biology’s annual meeting in Scotland.

Credit: Anders Garm/Life Science

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A jellyfish discovery named for Frank Zappa

Phialella Zappai. What might interest you most about this jellyfish is its name.

phialella zappai

That’s because the scientist who discovered this type of jellyfish among the many different jellyfish out there in the world was a Zappa fan.  If you can’t tell from just looking at the name, it is named after musician Frank Zappa.  It was named by Ferdinando “Nando” Boero, a jellyfish expert from Genova, Italy who wrote to Zappa hoping to meet the musician whom he admired. Zappa replied saying “there is nothing I would like better than having a jellyfish with my name” leading to a meeting, and eventually a friendly acquaintance, between the biologist and the musician.

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Toxic Irukanji jellyfish…Carukia barnesi

Irukandji Jellyfish are very tiny and extremely toxic. Found primarily around Australia, the sting syndrome is far from a pleasant one.  Irukandji syndrome is a condition induced by the sting of Carukia barnesi, a species of Irunkandji jellyfish, and certain other box jellyfish.  The condition is rarely fatal, but if immediate medical action is not taken, within only 20 minutes, the victim could go into cardiac arrest and die.  The syndrome was given its name in 1952 by Hugo Flecker, after the Aboriginal Irunkanji people who live in Palm Cove, north of Cairns, Australia, where stings are most common.

Symptoms consist of extreme pain at various parts of the body , nausea, vomiting, migraines, perspiration, rapid pulse, high blood pressure and even a feeling of impending doom as some have died from the injury.

This jellyfish not only has the ability to sting with their tentacles but can also sting those who come into contact with only the bell of this jellyfish. Virtually impossible to see in the water, they are about the size of your pinkie fingernail and have a transparent or opaque color. Vinegar is very effective at neutralizing additional stings but it is absolutely imperative you seek immediate medical attention to treat the sting.

Cassiopea..The Upside-down Jellyfish..

The upside down jellyfish is so called because it tends to stay upside down on the bottom and is commonly found in shallow mangrove swamps, mudflats, and turtle grass flats in Florida and various other similar environments around the world, where it lives usually upside-down on the bottom. Where found, there may be numerous individuals with varying shades of white, blue, green and brown. They have a mild sting since they are primarily photosynthetic, but sensitive individuals may have a stronger reaction.

The stinging cells are excreted in a mucus; swimming over these jellies (especially using swim fins) may cause transparent, essentially invisible, sheets of this mucus to be lifted up into the water column, where they are then encountered by unsuspecting swimmers. The stings, appearing in the form of a red rash-like skin irritation, are notorious for being extraordinarily itchy.

Our jellyfish sting relief spray is very effective on this irritating rash..Don’t get stung without it !! Available at retailers or on-line..