U is for Umbrella Jelly
This is a short Youtube video of delicate and beautiful umbrella jellyfish, or ‘umbrella jellies’ which is the preferred term, as they are not actually fish, and their magical water dancing. Uploaded by Aquarium of the Pacific.
These tiny little jellies’ Latin name is Eutonia indicans, and they are at the most 1 inch in diameter.
Being almost completely transparent they are quite hard to spot in the ocean. They are up to 98% water, with skin so thin, they don’t need lungs or breathing apparatus because the oxygen can be absorbed straight from the water by their outer layer.
These little jellyfish eat tiny invertebrate eggs and larvae, copepods, and other, tinier jellies near the surface of the waters of the Pacific coast from Santa Barbara to Japan.
Their mouths have four frilly lips and hang below the centre of the jellies (the ‘handle’ of the umbrella) and when food is trapped in the tentacles their mouths swing over and lick the food off.
Some jellies are suffering the very reverse of extinction – they are proliferating beyond a safe number. Usually these delicate creatures are kept in balance.
But their predators, bigger marine creatures such as tuna, have been overfished to the point of extinction, and animals like turtles have been overwhelmed by our plastic rubbish floating in the sea, which they mistake for food and on which they choke to death.
Not only this, we are providing jellyfish with abundant food – agricultural fertilisers are washed into the sea, and feed the plankton population on which jellyfish thrive. Warmer waters, due to climate change/warming are also helping jellies increase.
We have a lot to answer for.
This is my jelly poem:
Living in the ocean swell,
see-through as transparent gel,
part tentacles, part frilly bell,
it opens, closes to propel – a
tiny sea-water umbrella.
© Liz Brownlee
Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.