Many types of sea life are disappearing due to changes in the underwater ecosystem. Overfishing and global warming are the roots of this problem. Because of this, you might think all aquatic species would be in danger. But, dive deeper into the ocean and you’d see a surprising survivor –– the jellyfish.
In places like the Gulf of Mexico, the jellyfish population is booming. This phenomenon is a result of the current overfishing of their natural predators, such as tuna and swordfish.
Jellyfish aren't actually fish. Unlike fish, they lack brains and spines. They still respond to their environment and hunt, however. Their diet consists of fish larvae and zooplankton.
Some jellyfish have tentacles up to 80 feet long. They use these tentacles to sting and paralyze their prey by grabbing onto their intended victim then shooting out tiny venom-filled pellets in less than a millionth of a second.
Jellyfish are fierce predators, but they are actually really tasty, too. In China, jellyfish are eaten in a dish called the rubber band salad. Like some humans, birds, sea turtles, and sunfish like to snack on jellyfish, but sometimes fatally mistake floating plastic and garbage in the ocean for them.
Scientists find it hard to study jellyfish, mostly because of their fragility. Tagging jellyfish risks harming or killing them. Luckily, scientists have found a better method – they send out little submarines to the ocean floor and the crew inside looks for worthy jellyfish to capture. When they find a jelly, they send out a tube that works like a vacuum cleaner. It sucks up the jellyfish and, if all goes well, the animal lands in a compartment, and the scientists can study it.
Jellyfish are very mysterious. While they may look like they are vanishing, they are actually thriving in the depths of the ocean.
[Source: Discover Magazine]