Saturday, December 13, 2008

Global Jellyfish Invasion

Dateline: December 13, 2008

County Recurrents will recall our post of Nov. 24, 2008 wherein the Waikiki Box Jellyfish Invasion was reported.

(Box Jellyfish; Photo source:

Jellyfish Defined:
"JELLYFISH jel·ly·fish (jl-fsh)
n. pl. jellyfish or jel·ly·fish·es
1. a. Any of numerous usually free-swimming marine coelenterates of the class Scyphozoa, characteristically having a gelatinous, tentacled, often bell-shaped medusoid stage as the dominant phase of its life cycle.
b. Any of various similar or related coelenterates."

This threat is now of global proportions as reported by media sources such as Reuters and Yahoo:

Citing a special report by the National Science Foundation entitled "Jellyfish Gone Wild", Jellyfish are taking over coastal waters around the globe and annually affecting over 150 Million beachgoers with 500,000 people stung in the Chesapeake Bay, 150,000 in Florida, and 10,000 in Australia, as reported at the following link:

(Portuguese Man o'War; Photo source:

And last but certainly not least, County Recurrents will recognize the infamous So. Cal Purple Jellyfish:

(Common So. Cal. Jellyfish, aka "Purple Jellyfish" or Pelagia panopyra;

"1.5 feet wide. Free-swimming member of coastal plankton community. These large jellyfish serve as temporary homes for young crabs and at least one species of fish, the medusa fish. The purple jellyfish possesses very potent stinging cells and should be avoided."

"Back in the day", in the spring of 1974, prior to the merger between LACo and Santa Monica City, the beaches of Santa Monica South were invaded by the Purulent and Prurient Purple Jellyfish. In fact, the Santa Monica City Rookie Class while engaged in a half-mile swim race from SMS T-24 to the pier were engulfed in a sea of jellyfish out front of SMS T-17, with all rookies stopping amidst this sea of jellyfish, with all rookies having been stung repeatedly. Arms were waved and the lifeguard at T-17, Paul Henne, called in to SMHQ reporting what he thought might be a shark related incident. The Santa Monica Rescue Boat with Lt. Tom Zahn and deckhand Bobby Chavez then responded, rescuing all rookies amidst the prop chopping up jellyfish. In between a set, the rescue boat was reversed inshore and all rookies safely deposited in the shallows.

All rookies were then ordered to report to SMHQ to explain themselves whereupon it became obvious to the powers that be that all rookies were red with welts. One of the rookies worst stung was Arthur Verge whose near entire body was covered with welts from head to toe. Tough competitor that he was and is, he sucked it up despite the severity of his wounds.

The undersigned, a rookie engaged in this infamous swim that day remembers the first sting around T-18 and swimming through and past it, then a few strokes later having his right arm hit another jellyfish and getting stung, and then tripled stroked with the same right arm to get past it and each time hitting another jellyfish and another. By the time I reached T-17 I was getting hit on the left and right arm and across the trunk. Somehow I managed to avoid being impaled by any of these purple people impalers in the face. At T-17, I stopped and looked around and while treading water realized I was surrounded by jellyfish. Shortly thereafter, all of us gathered together and began waving our hands to gain the attention of the T-17 guard, Paul Henne, followed by our rescue.

That is it for today's HISTORY lesson.

Be careful out there.

Until next time.


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