Monday, March 19, 2007

Look at the Little Jellyfish!

This story illustrates the fact that my father and I are definitely related. (see my previous story, “Look at the Cute Little Cactus!”) It occurred one of those summers long ago when our family owned a timeshare apartment in Hilton Head. I was not present for this event, but received this story from my sister and also from dad, and relate it to the best of my recollection.

Dad had gone to the beach with my sister for some fun in the ocean. As he was wading about in the waters getting sprayed by ocean waves, he noticed a small jellyfish floating in the water 10 to 15 feet away.

“Look at da liddle jeddyfish!” he exclaimed in a high voice, his tone going up high then coming back down. I can imagine him pointing at it and being proud of his oceanic find. The Jaques Cousteau of Hilton Head Island had discovered this fascinating new creature with only 15 minutes of experience.

Dad waded over to this small sea creature to more accurately observe its undulating bell as it struggled vainly against the mighty current of the sea. It was near the surface of the water and was blindly riding the waves towards its eventual destination on the sand of the beach. What dad did not see were the hundreds of other jellyfish that were deeper underwater that surrounded this lone individual. (A school of jellyfish is known as a smack.)

It was a painful experience, I am told. What makes it worse is that the tentacles of these creatures tend to stick to your skin. When one moves, it naturally pulls all the other tentacles into contact. I understand they used Adolf’s meat tenderizer to treat the stings, but as so much time has passed, and as I was not present, the specific events are not as clear as they once were.

The moral of the story is: The best defense is a good offense. Several sticks of dynamite with waterproof fuses would have made the water safe for collection and examination of sea creatures using mesh netting and approved safety equipment.

environmental ecologist
marine ethicist

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