Monday, November 12, 2007

Animal of the Week -- November 12, 2007

Hello Hello Hello one and all...

This week's animal of the week is Apolemia uvaria (pearl chain or string jellyfish). Although called "jellyfish", this ribbon of wobbly stuff is actually a colony of organisms, like a Portuguese man o' war. Each individual has a prescribed function -- some are occupied by food acquisition, some reproduction, and others locomotion. The component animals are each only a centimetre long, but the whole colony of a pearl chain jellyfish can be up to 30 metres long!

Typically, these great ribbons trail behind their gas-filled sails in deep open seas and oceans, but recently they have been spotted in British coastal waters. While being quite impressive to look at, they are cause for concern; like the Portuguese man o' war they have vicious stings. Several years ago a bloom of these animals caused serious damage to the Norwegian salmon-farming industry as many fish were killed by their sting. Unlikely to be fatal to people, caution is advised as the sting is likened to that of a wasp.

Selma Pollock, 34, and David Jones, 35, were scuba diving off the coast of Cornwall last week. They were having a marvellous time in the clear autumn waters when David spotted something strange, he went to investigate. Seeing the pretty string jellyfish but not knowing what it was he took a piece of driftwood in hand and used it to investigate the strange creature. Selma wondered what David was up to and went to investigate. Her curiosity as to what David was doing waving his wood around turned to horror when she got a little too close, she certainly was not impressed with the pearl-chain necklace David had given her.

Bye then!

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