Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Jelly-cles Come Out

The month of August always gets me thinking about jellyfish. No, really. August is the typical month that I would see jellyfish. Jellyfish came earlier this year, but in my mind, August is their month, the month I was zapped by a jellyfish in Puerto Rico.

I can't remember whether I was sixteen or seventeen when I spent the summer with relatives, but I do remember asking why the beaches were so empty in August. I couldn't understand why a whole month of summer was squandered. I was sure if I lived near a beach I would be wading in the ocean every day. That was what I was doing when I got stung on my wrist. If you've never experienced a jellyfish sting, imagine getting slapped on the wrist with a live electrical wire. I could feel the pain slowly travel up my arm, across my shoulders and down the other. Then I felt achy everywhere. Ever since that experience, I've had a sensitivity to jellyfish stings. Even the mildest stings cause me to break out in a rash.

It's difficult to believe a creature that looks like a cross between a mushroom and Jell-O gelatin could cause so much harm. Viewing them from the safety of the aquarium, they are one of my favorite sea creatures. Like colorful miniature bumbershoots constantly opening and closing, they propel themselves lazily through the water, gathering food. They seem so peaceful as they float along. With no front, no back, no brain, a mouth that doubles as an anus, are they really animals? Eighteenth-century scientists argued whether they belonged in the plant or animal kingdom. They ended up somewhere in-between, classified as cnidarians. Cnidaria comes from the Greek term cnidos, which means "stinging nettle." I'm guessing the scientists had a good reason for picking that name over the Greek word for "umbrella."

Plant or animal, it's hard not to appreciate the jellyfish. I know they left their mark on me.

And so another life lesson from watching animals:

Go with the flow, but don't be afraid to shock when necessary.

6 comments:

Purpleflowerpatch said...

Elizabeth was stung by a blue-bottle last year - a summer bummer for our neck of the woods. Down here we get jellyfish too, but only after wild storms...the rest of the time it's safe to swim all year. Wanna come visit??!

Inner Elder said...

If only the Disney movie "Finding Nemo" had come out sooner! Funny how the painful memories stick. Love, Mom

Steph said...

Those critters do look deceptively innocuous, don't they? :-)

flmom said...

Such a beautiful creature (especially the Portugese Man O War) to pack such a powerful punch! We have times throughout the year when they are washed up all over our beaches. Keeping my little one away from them is quite the task. It's hard to not be drawn to those gorgeous blues and purples.

TobyBo said...

I love the life lesson...

Vicki said...

'Go with the flow, but don't be afraid to shock'

Sounds like the definition of Caylee but I never would have thought she had so much in common with a jellyfish! hehehe Wait till you see what she's doing with stage makeup!

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