Something usually happens to those who swim in waters of tropical climates. Whether in latitudes as distant as Australia, the Florida Keys or the Caribbean. They often suffer from a strange sensation of itching or burning until the unexplained moment. Scientists had been investigating the cause for years. He had been baptized as ‘stinging water’. After analyzing samples from different areas and analyzing them in the laboratory they reached a surprising conclusion. The fault was the banks of inverted jellyfish. Creatures without tentacles, seemingly harmless. They move in harmony with the flow of the current at the bottom of shallow waters. They are jellyfish that itch without touching.
Jellyfish that bite without touching throw grenades
Despite their innocuous appearance, these marine animals can be very stinging. But they remain at a distance more than prudential. Your secret? They throw a kind of ‘mucus pomegranates into the water’. They are loaded with toxins and are invisible to the naked eye.
The multidisciplinary team led by scientists from the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Kansas and the United States Naval Research Laboratory discovered it. These creatures had developed stinging cells that they could throw in any direction. Even over great distances. Once the weapon is launched, they only collect the loot.
Unique evolutionary advantage
“Normally jellyfish have in their tentacles some capsules called nematocyst devolution. When they touch a dam, they inject a poison that ends up paralyzing and killing their victims. ” I explainedto Dr. Gary Vora, biologist at the United States Naval Research Laboratory. But jellyfish that itch without touching have neither tentacles nor digestive tract. Instead they have capsules that release a stinging substance in the water. An evolutionary advantage.
There are plenty of reasons to believe that this toxic mucus is found in all jellyfish of the genus Cassiopeia. Although they are not exclusive of these.
The bites, Vora points out, can be especially irritating, although they do not appear to be dangerous. They will analyze in detail its chemical composition to determine its harmfulness.
What most impressed the research team whose results were published in the specialized journal Nature Communications Biology, nor was the toxicity of the bites. It was the ability of these creatures to adapt to changes in the environment. The Cassiopeia they are carnivorous, but different from the rest of their congeners. However, they lack tentacles, so they cannot hunt in the same way as other jellyfish to use.
“We believe that these jellyfish perfected their procurement techniques to be made with supplemental nutrients on cloudy days. It is when photosynthetic algae are less effective. Or when the shallow waters in which they live are cloudy, ”concludes Vora. It's as if these jellyfish had invented a long time ago app Underwater food delivery.