Finding Medusa

This is early in the season for jellyfish — commonly known here as “medusa.” They usually arrive every year when the waters are much warmer. With May’s July-like weather or climate change or over-fishing (or all of the above), we may see more this summer.

Unfortunately, Elena spotted some on the beach one morning last week. I walked the beach a while later and found none. The first three shots below are what Elena saw.

Note: Many thanks to Wilma of the blog South English Town Gazette for pointing out that these first three photos are of a Portuguese Man of War. I’m really glad I wasn’t on the beach that day! Click here for the painful truth about these siphonophores.


(Click any image to ‘jellify.’)

Another Day
I went across the street to relax on the beach for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon. It was a perfect day for the beach, but there were surprisingly few people. And there was no one swimming. I noticed a father and son playing close to shore with a football (soccer ball). Whenever the son would let it go into the water, the father would scold and point and wait for the surf to bring it back in. That’s when I noticed a jellyfish that had been washed ashore. I let my eyes wander and realised the surf was teeming with them. I was seeing my first “bloom” or “swarm” of medusas.

A group of boys were playing ball and spotted the jellyfish in the surf. One washed up at their suddenly scrambling feet. It was a different type from what I had already seen, and slightly smaller.

After inspecting the jellyfish, one boy scooped it up along with the wet sand and held it up for me. He said it wasn’t a “medusa”; it was an “aguaviva.” When I later looked up the word, I found that aguaviva was, like Medusa, just another generic name for jellyfish here.

The different so-called “jellyfish” we see aren’t even all jellyfish in the first place (for example, the Portuguese Man of War), and what we call jellyfish aren’t actually fish anyway. And if you want to learn more about that, you’ll have to look it up. I never studied marine biology (although I did grow up near the New York Aquarium.)

AGUAVIVA?
HE SAID, “THESE DON’T STING, THEY JUST LEAVE A RED MARK.”
(THAT DIDN’T KEEP HIM FROM RUNNING WHEN THEY GOT TOO CLOSE.)
I DISTORTED THE CONTRAST SO YOU CAN SEE THE SWARM.
CALMY WAITING TO CATCH A JELLYFISH IN A T-SHIRT.
(THE BOY AT RIGHT HAS THE T-SHIRT.  THEY WEREN’T TRYING
TO CATCH A JELLYFISH THAT WAS WEARING ONE.)
THE HUNTERS BECOME THE HUNTED…

Los Boliches medusa hunters in action.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.