The rare black nettle jellyfish usually is elusive and seldom seen, but lately it’s been goin’ to Cali and causing swimmers there to feel their pain, ala Bill Clinton.
The black jellies are the size of hula-hoops, and their stinging tentacles can grow to 25 feet or more in length. Black jellyfish are also known as Chrysaora achlyos. They have a dark burgundy belly and black-and-pink tentacles.
These floating denizens of the deep stung 4th of July holiday swimmers with abandon this past weekend.
Kayaker Joe Richman spotted these giant black jellies, according to CBSB, and stated:
In 30 years of diving and fishing off San Diego, I’ve seen a lot of cool things and this ranks up there as one of them.”
If by “cool” Joe means it’s “cool” to see the horrific vision of hordes of swimmers coming out of the ocean water with “dark membranes clinging to their body,” as News 10, an ABC affiliate, described the sight to their viewers.
Pictures have been floating around of the elusive nettles since the 1920s, though the species has only been named since 1997. Monterey Bay Aquarium reported only very recently that there have been sightings in southern California.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the jellyfish made a dramatic appearance around San Diego in 1989, but disappeared soon afterwards. The black nettles came back with a vengeance ten years later, and now they have returned again, just like jellyfish versions of Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise.
Large blooms, or floating groups of the jellyfish, have been spotted in recent years in California coastal waters, though most recently in 2012. Scientists suspect the black nettles likely live in deep, calm waters.
Professor Greg Rouse, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said:
If I saw one, I’d be wanting to snorkel all around it. But those tentacles are so long you have to really watch out for them.”
Humans having changed the condition of the oceans by increasing the amount of organic material which provides more nutrients for multiple types of aquatic life has caused the increase of the black jellyfish, according to scientists.
The organic substances can feed plankton, causing their population to rapidly grow. This increase in the plankton population, in turn, results in more food for the black nettles.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, black nettle jelly fish are protectors of the meek Pacific butterfish. Butterfish hide inside the bell of the nettle jellies when it senses danger, and also eats plankton that the jellyfish collects.
The black nettle jellyfish, of course, know nothing about L.L. Cool J, who wrote and sang “Going Back to California.” But, they are there, so swimmers beware, or you might be the next one to experience the stinging pain that these jellies can bring.
Written by: Douglas Cobb
view the black nettle jellyfish here!