July 19, 2010

Jellyfish are better than a crystal ball

Chrysaora quinquecirrha?

Sure, that's easy for you to say! I just say "sea nettles" and "OUCH"!

There's now a super cool website from NOAA to warn you about the probability of jellyfish before you jump into Chesapeake waterways. The nasty little critter named above (just how many syllables is that?) is whitish in color (sometimes with maroon spots) and is the most abundant jellyfish found in the Bay and tidal tributaries. They thrive in the Chesapeake Bay like no other place on earth because the salinity varies from 10 to 20 parts per thousand. How did we get to be so lucky?

I visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore last year, but I remember only a few things from their humongous jellyfish exhibit, Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance: 1) that jellyfish, like insects, will "inherit the earth" because they continue to thrive no matter what we do to their habitat, and 2) jellyfish populations are actually increasing and "swarming" into fishermen's nets, especially in the Black Sea.

Near the Northern Neck of Virginia where we sail frequently, on the Rappahannock River and on the southern Potomac River, I have about a 70 percent chance of meeting one of these guys if I jump in to cool off. Guess we'll need to venture farther north to fresh water where the critters don't visit. I've always loved the Sassafras and Bohemia Rivers anyway.

For more info on sea nettles, click here.