July 31, 2008
Just a tad threatening…
Well, continuing our watery theme, we’ve gently migrated from my occasional web geek tradition of Friday Cat Blogging, to Friday Lion’s Mane Blogging. Close enough. Especially if you’re in the water with these impressive and very beautiful jellyfish. They’re the largest of all jellies, and interestingly, also the longest animal, according to Wiki info. This one is about two feet across; a mere toddler. Once or twice a year I come across a small fleet of dying ones washed up on the pebbly sand at my beach, their deflated maroon bodies draping the shoreline like a ruffled bed sham.
These guys can pack far more of a punch with their sting than my kitties can with their incessant yowling come breakfast time. Painful as that is when I just want to roll over and sleep, I’ll take that sound and the brush of their whiskers against my face over the silent sensation of a jelly’s tentacles against my leg, any day!
I will never forget an amazing snorkeling adventure I had far off the coast of Placentia, Belize four years ago. I had been deposited from a decrepit fishing boat twenty miles from shore into the warm open water. The nearest body of land was an atoll straight out of a comic strip: a dab of sand rising from the sea supporting one pathetically drooping palm tree and two coconuts. I expected to find a message in a bottle had I squinted. Wearing just a bathing suit, not a protective wetsuit, I floated happily in the salinity, swimming calmly in the middle of nowhere, intoxicated by the vivid reef and all its colorful life. Every hue of plants, coral and fish passed under my fins, including several barracuda. From time to time I’d glide past small translucent, vertically suspended egg-shaped jellyfish, maybe three or four inches long, which I had been assured did not sting. They looked reasonably harmless. Still, instinct being what it is, I made sure to zig and zag to avoid contact.
As I continued to make my way, I noticed an increasing number of these alien-like creatures floating around me. Then very suddenly, the water became nearly gel-like. I looked straight ahead and was stunned to see an almost solid wall of tiny, to adult, egg-shaped jellies in front of me. I immediately looked to my right: another thick, gelatinous wall of baby jellies. More than slightly alarmed, I swiveled my head to the left: same thing. I was surrounded. There were millions of them. I had somehow gotten past the velvet rope and the bouncer, and entered a private club hosting a wild jelly-fest rave party.
Ever see the flick, “Finding Nemo”? Remember the scene where they were forced to swim at high speed through a thick sea of menacing jellyfish, attempting to dodge the tentacles? Well, suddenly I became one of those cute animated Pixar clownfish as I took a breath, collected my resolve, and threw myself forward into the jelly muck with the optimistic assumption that surely at some point I would reach clear water on the other side. And I did. But not before enduring a few nagging nips and annoying stings from these ever-bobbing party animals. Turns out, the fellow who had told me that they didn’t sting… was wearing a wetsuit!