AN AMAZING FACT: Few marine animals are as mysterious and intimidating as jellyfish. These incredible creatures can be found in all of the world’s oceans, and even a few varieties inhabit freshwater. They are 97 percent water and quite transparent, hence the name. Most live in shallow coastal waters, but a few can be found at depths of up to 12,000 feet! One of the largest jellyfish, the lion’s mane jellyfish, can be six feet across and have tentacles over 100 feet in length!
Jellyfish have no heart, no blood, no gills, bones, or cartilage, and no brain (talk about a real no-brainer!). Scientists have determined that some jellies have primitive eyes that can detect light—amazing for an animal with no brain. Jellyfish are most closely related to corals and sea anemones, but they can move about by using special muscles to draw water into the bell and then push it out again. It’s almost hypnotic to watch them swim. They’re also carried along by wind, waves, and currents.
Most jellies are silent predators that kill and eat other living creatures. Usually an unsuspecting fish swims into the almost invisible tentacles, which are loaded with millions of stinging cells. These complex cells, called nematocysts, shoot out like tiny poison darts into their prey, paralyzing the victim. Then the jelly can eat its catch at its leisure through its mouth on the underside.
The painful sting of jellyfish can be deadly in some species. The sea wasp, or marine stinger, is rated as the deadliest venomous creature in the world! In the last century, this feared box jellyfish is thought to have killed more than 70 people in Australia alone. In fact, one large box jelly has enough venom to kill 60 people. Despite the stinging cells, animals such as ocean sunfish and leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish. Most jellyfish are actually harmless to man. In fact, it is hoped that some of the painful chemicals they produce may provide treatments for cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
Did you know the Bible talks about something with a powerful sting? Drinking alcohol, it says, is a bad idea. “At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:32). That’s one sting we can do without!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Proverbs 23:32