Posted by: joha5 | July 23, 2010

Jellyfish Stings 100 People, World Rejoices…Again!

Science has never particularly been my forte.  It isn’t that I don’t enjoy science or that I don’t want to understand it, it is just that I find so many other things much more interesting.  I’ve always been into subjects that revolve around people, places, culture, history, and literature.  I have no idea why this is.  It is just the way I am. 

However, when a science story also involves a human, historical, or cultural aspect to it then that changes everything.  I have most recently been enamored with a certain octopus named Paul who resides in Oberhausen, Germany and has a penchant for predicting the outcomes of World Cup matches.  I suppose – technically – this is a human interest story and not a science story but it is undeniable that there is some kind of scientific aspect to this story.  How do octopus brains work?  What kind of food did they put in the boxes with the flags to lure him in?  Does he eat with his beak?  These may not be hard-hitting scientific questions but it is as close to a scientific inquisition as I typically ever get.

Recently, however, there has been a spate of prolific or remarkable sea creatures that have captured my attention.  Paul the octopus will always be near and dear to my heart but another creature in Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye, New Hampshire caught my attention yesterday.  He does not have a fun moniker like Paul does.  But what he does have is an inspiring – and simply awesome – species name: Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea Capillata).  What made him catch my attention?  This very jellyfish stung between 50-100 people.  50 to 100 people!

What a lovely pair of Lion's Mane Jellyfish!

So how can one jellyfish sting up to 100 people? With lots of stinger-equipped tentacles, the largest jellyfish in the world is apparently up to the job.  Though officials can’t be certain one jellyfish stung all the people, it seems likely as that’s the only giant they spotted nearby.

This species is typically found in the cooler regions of the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Baltic Sea but rarely show up on the beach.

All the action transpired in about 20 minutes, when state park officials administered first aid (vinegar treatment).  When the 40-pound (18-kilogram) jellyfish arrived near shore, it appeared to be dead. But even a dead animal or a detached tentacle can sting a person.  And the lion’s mane isn’t lacking in that arena.

The lion’s mane jellyfish’s sports a disk-shaped bell that can reach some 3.2 feet (1 meter) across, with its trailing thin tentacles extending more than 32 feet (10 m).  Eight clusters of 150 tentacles each hang from the underside of its body.  Like other jellyfish, the lion’s mane’s tentacles are equipped with nematocysts, or capsules that contain a trigger and stinging structure.  A single tentacle can be armed with hundreds or thousands of nematocysts, which get activated upon making contact with an object like a person’s legs.

When spread out, the tentacles of the lion’s mane jellyfish form a net-like trap through which only the tiniest animals can pass. In fact, this tangle of tentacles is often difficult for swimmers to avoid, which can mean painful stings for many – even up to 100 people. 

They don't look quite a beautiful on land, do they?

Sadly, the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish gave up the ghost after washing ashore leaving its grand trail of destruction in its wake.  Even without a central nervous system or a brain, I’d like to think this nameless jellyfish knew what it was doing.  I’d like to think that it had a sense of occasion and a sense of history and that it wanted to be an exceptional jellyfish – even if it had to go out in a blaze of glory and nematocysts.   

Special thanks to



  1. I heard about this yesterday and again this morning on the news! So apparently, they went at it with a freakin pitch fork and that’s what cause pieces of it to break off and float off, therefore stinging anything that touched it. Pitch fork? Really? That’s apparently the best tool they had handy.

    • I read that too! The park service described it as trying to pick up jello with your hands so they went to go and get a pitchfrok and before you knew it the stupid thing had split apart into a ton of different pieces which – as you said – ended up causing more damage than good. Mix this with Paul the Octopus, the dog that screams ‘batman’ when he barks, and now this terrorist jellyfish, we have had quite a couple weeks of animals!

  2. Excellent Lion’s Mane Jellyfish pic!

    • Hi Satine! Thanks so much for the comment and for stopping by! I hope you come by again soon!

  3. Jellyfish Stings 100 People, World Rejoices?Again! « The Odyssey…

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  4. Jellyfish Stings 100 People, World Rejoices?Again!…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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