This exotic Indonesian bell jellyfish first made its presence known to me this morning as a splash of fire against the side of my neck. The microscopic nematocysts—spring-loaded darts of toxin—got my attention as I snorkeled over a coral wall near Pulau Gililayar. The pain was not as intense as that of a Portuguese man-o-war, and nothing like the box jellyfish that can and has been fatal to some swimmers.
Once the sting subsided I took a few moments to observe my antagonist, and then later read up on it.
According to Dr. Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a jellyfish researcher based in Tasmania, when some species of medusa die they sink to the ocean floor and, amazingly, their cells then regenerate into polyps. From these polyps a new jellyfish will emerge. This means that when certain jellyfish become weakened either by age or illness they can call up this incredible survival mechanism and transform into an entirely new being.
Jellyfish have evolved to learn the secret of eternal life.
“This was a real mind blower for all of us,” said Dr. Gershwin in a recent BBC interview. “It’s one of the most amazing discoveries of our time.”
I’ll take a little shot of pain anytime to learn about something as fascinating as the life, death, and rebirth of jellyfish.
For upcoming passages when I have no cell or WiFi signal, I have activated a satellite tracking link that shows the daily position, current weather, and includes a few personal thoughts from the daily log of Flying Fish. I will not be able to respond to messages via satellite but I love the idea that you are sailing along with me. If you would like to follow the daily progress of Flying Fish into Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean via satellite you can click this link: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish
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To see where Flying Fish has sailed in the past year click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish
Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019