The Eternal Life of Medusa


Some species of jellyfish have evolved to allow perpetual regeneration–the secret of eternal life. © Jeffrey Cardenas

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:

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish.

To see where Flying Fish has sailed in the past year click here:

Instagram: FlyingFishSail

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2019

8 thoughts on “The Eternal Life of Medusa

    • Edd, Your comment is right on target about the possibility of species extinction. I think about it every day, especially when I see something I have never seen before. How many more generations will have this opportunity? Thank you for following Flying Fish.


  1. Thank you for being my biggest fans, Mom and Dad!
    I appreciate your comments but for now, I like the idea that this is a non-commercial discipline. I love having readership, and every writer would like to have more readers, but right now I need nothing in return. My reward is waking up on the boat every day and seeing things and meeting people I have never before encountered.


  2. Jeff, this is such an amazing story and photo. You have a wonderful way with words and I was extremely happy to see you still have your parents! How nice! You got a fan in me! ⛵

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Jeff and Lilly.
    This is Miss Elizabeth from KW Montessori School…long ago.
    I so look forward to reading your posts of your Father and Daughter adventures. What a spectacular journey for you.
    Travel safely!!!


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