Unique jellyfish just a pussycat
By MATTHEW TORBIT
Saturday, 14 April 2007
A jellyfish that invades Wellington Harbour every summer is believed to be a new species.
Though the New Zealand species can deliver a nasty sting and rash, Dr Gershwin described it as a pussycat.
Hundreds and thousands of the jellyfish bloom in Wellington Harbour from November to March, and Dr Gershwin said pimple-like bumps on its top and an unusual muscle structure on the football-sized creature were an indication of its uniqueness.
“As one who gets excited about jellyfish, this certainly ranks up there,” she said.
She suspects other new species are lurking in waters around the country.
Though the lion’s mane may be a pussycat, a tiny box jellyfish found in Wellington Harbour can pack a nasty surprise.
“It has been noticed that people who get stung by this jellyfish show herpes-like blisters that will periodically come back for the next few years,” she said.
The box jellyfish, found in waters off Queensland and the Northern Territories, can deliver venom than can kill a human in 120 seconds.
Tiny stinging cells in the tentacles fire microscopic barbs at such force that it punctures human skin and delivers the venom.
She said each box jellyfish typically had about 60 tentacles totalling 180 metres in length.
Contact with 1.5 metres of tentacle is enough to kill an adult.
Brainless box jellyfish use two dozen eyes to figure out which way is up: here.
- Don’t Pee On It: Zinc Emerges As New Jellyfish Sting Treatment (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Deadliest Jellyfish’s Sting May Have Met Its Match (livescience.com)
- Do jellyfish hold the secret to immortality, and a cure for cancer? (boingboing.net)
- Lethal stings from the Australian box jellyfish could be treated with zinc (medicalxpress.com)