Can we talk about how amazing they are for just a second? I’ve always found it fascinating when some of human “inventions” are really just recreating things seen in nature. For example, sail jellies. I was flabbergasted when hearing tales about these creatures from the Pacific Cup racers at the Kaneohe Yacht Club last year. How had I not known about these natural-born sailors before?! They are genetically predisposed to sail downwind, close hauled. Whoa!!
I was recently watching a Wonders of Life episode and was again speechless at the advanced design of jellies. There are golden jellyfish in a saltwater lake in Palau who are solar-powered. SOLAR POWERED, people! They rotate counter-clockwise while in the sun. They follow the sun throughout the day in the lake, on the dot. For not having a brain, that is some intelligent design right there.
Then I started doing research, because what else is out there I don’t know about these awesome creatures? In line with everything Australian, this sea wasp jelly is the MOST DEADLY marine creature! One sea wasp jelly can kill 60 adults, and it could kill you within minutes. Source here. Sharks really do get a bad rap.
Opposing to the sea wasp, there is an immortal jellyfish in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Japan. The matured jellies are able to revert back to a polyp (baby stage) to avoid being eaten or succumbing to sickness. Magically, they start their lives over again. Studies are being done to see if humans can become immortal too, which I find hard to duplicate. It’s something our culture is obsessed with, so it would be interesting to see if it got us humans anywhere.
The rest of my research yielded some interesting info.
- They’ve been around for at least 500 million years. Pre-dinosaurs!
- They aren’t actually fish, because fish have vertebrae
- Most do not have digestive, central nervous, circulatory, or respiratory systems
- The sea wasp is one of the few living organisms to have 360 degree vision
- Most species only live up to a few months
I spent many hours looking at the sail jellies on my Pacific crossing. I felt bad for the ones who toppled over in our wake. Did they right themselves? If the wake simply spun them around violently, did they get back on track? What happens to them in a storm? Where are they all going to end up? Since the wind determines where they go, but they’re all on different paths, they’re just like sailboats I supposed. Or we are just like them 😉
Here I am holding one who washed onboard, whose innards you can see on the right. I tried and failed to capture an image showing just how many sail jellies there were around us. The sea is such a humbling place.