Monday, August 5, 2013

Marine Life: The Jellyfish

In honor of my graduation from UNL my wife and parents had decided a trip to the Omaha Zoo. (as seen below) Now I love trips to the zoo and luckily the one here is considered to be one of the best in the nation! So I'm quite the lucky fella.

Of course with any en devour involving the potentially natural, scientific, or educational opportunity can spark my interest. This time is no different! We saw animals, plants, many a sight to behold. But of course the real gem of the trip is the aquarium. 

A tasty specimen. (courtesy: Wife.)
So, In honor of the trip I decided I would write a few small features on my research and thoughts about the things I found at the Zoo. Today, we will discuss one of the most intriguing; Jelly Fish.


Catch more after the break at the link below!

Bloom of Jellies. (Credit: Wife)

Along with being one of natures most beautiful animals they can also be very annoying, painful, and potentially deadly [1].  

Ok, about to get a little biological here, they are typically classified in the animalia kingdom with a phylum of Cnidaria and Sub Phylum Medusozoa. 

This is mostly just a way to classify them, but they, as a species, are quite fascinating. (Personally, I'm not trained in this terminology, but it would be worth studying.)

She's quite the photographer. (courtesy: Wife)
For instance, They do not have a digestive, central nervous, respiratory or circulatory systems. how do they function? 

To breath they are thin enough that they can diffuse the necessary oxygen by diffusion. To eat they have a mouth that opens into a cavity for digestion. To swim, they have a "hydrostatic skeleton" that allows them to somewhat move [2]. 

They also have a rudimentary ability to detect light and a sort of "nerve net", both of which are hardly classified as anything.

Their life cycle is also astounding, 14 known stages with alterations between polyp and medusa generations. They begin with fertilization of free swimming larvae that adhere to a solid surface, i.e. boats, rocks, other fish, etc.  (I know other fish, it's weird.)

The various life stages of a Jelly. (courtesy: Wikipedia)

From this stage they grow as a stalk and spend a few years just eating what floats by. They also have the ability to reproduce asexually in this state, spreading the colony further.

It is in the later stages of the polyp that it begins to go through strobilation [3]. This is many a way to reproduce by separating into a new life form, asexually. From here the jellies grow as the medusa (or head) increases in size and the tentacles begin to grow. 

The final stages are the form of jellies that we are most familiar with.

For the most part that's all I've had time to look at this. I've spent a few days thinking about this post and doing a bit of research here and there. It's crazy complicated if you get into the thick of all that is known and needs to be learned. Honestly, it's no wonder biologists can dedicate a career to a single species. Especially one so complex. 

Here's some more of our pictures from the trip:

I love the blues that these one's portray.

Right, are some "upside-down jellies". I personally love the way these are, but I'm not sure if they are upside down in the medusa stage, or if these are an earlier life stage, the polyp. The zoo exhibit says the aforementioned, but I didn't look closely.

The exhibit said these are upside-down jelly fish. I'm not so sold.

On the left we have some of my favorites. Mainly because of the blue color, but I have learned that this is sometimes falsified by the zoo designers (various lighting effects) [4].



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