Thursday, May 1, 2008

Passive Drifters And Their Cousins

The temperature dropped yesterday a good 20 degrees and a strong, misty wind from the south churned up the ocean. It's early to see jellyfish washed up along the shore. Mostly, they prefer warmer water. These creatures free float and wait for the current to bring prey to their tenacles. They are 94-98% water and have no brain. Interestingly, they're known as "medusa" in 6 languages - Hungarian, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Hebrew and Bulgarian. Their more stationary cousins, the sea anemones, anchor themselves to rocks or reefs with a foot that burrows in. They have a toxin in their hairy tenacles that stuns their prey and it is this toxin that makes them sticky to the touch. They prefer to stay put, but if a predator thins their ranks, they'll seek a safer spot.

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