Friday, August 12, 2005
This is a cannonball jellyfish. "Jellyfish" are not really fish of course, they are Cnidarians. The cannonball is one of the harmless jellies. Some types have powerful toxins, but not this one.
Up until a couple of years ago, I would have described the cannonball as a completely harmless species. I have handled them a zillion times with absolutely no sting, no itch, nothing,... nada.
The event that changed my mind was a warm, sunny day at St. Augustine Beach with my kids. We were beachcombing and splashing around when I found a cannonball jelly. I picked it up to their amazement and explained that cannonballs don't sting.
Trustingly, they leaned in for a closer look. I showed them it's parts and let them feel it's rubbery body. I was holding the jellyfish upside down, and in that position it is basically a bowl. As my son peered into the jellyfish, I tipped it and the seawater that had been inside the jellyfish bowl poured out onto his belly. We laughed and continued walking down the beach.
A few minutes later, he said, "Dad, my stomach's itchy." Then, "Ow, it's burning." He wasn't in great pain, but you could tell it was uncomfortable. OOps...
We cut our beach visit short and by the time we made it home to his grandparents house, the itching had passed.
Of course I felt bad. I guess there's a difference in the sensitivity of 10 year old belly skin and my hands. I still handle cannonballs and I still don't get stung, but I no longer think of them as completely harmless.
Neither does my son...
Posted by R.Powers at 7:33 PM