Sea Lung Jellyfish

October 15, 2021

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Photographer: Michela Meda

Summary Author: Michela Meda; Cadan Cummings

The photo above features a jellyfish known in the Mediterranean as the “sea lung” (Rhizostoma Pulmo). The sea lung is a large species of jellyfish that has a semispherical-shaped cap and is opalescent, transparent white colored with a blue-violet edge. One of the larger species of jellyfish, the sea lung can reach impressive lengths over 59 inches (160 cm) long, grow to 20-24 inches (50-60 cm) in diameter, and weigh up to 22 pounds (10 kg). Anatomically, the central body area of a jellyfish is sometimes called a dumbbell and is composed of eight extensions of white curled and lumpy fabric, from which extends eight tentacles. The name of sea lung is due to the typical throbbing movement of the jellyfish as it swims, usually in shallow waters and lagoons. During the summer storms and the arrival of winter, jellyfish can become beached and sometimes these events can occur in large numbers.

The sea lung eats primarily plankton and other small prey. Uniquely, this species of jellyfish often lives in symbiosis with small fish that protect it from the predators swimming inside the umbrella. Although moderately venomous, this type of jellyfish is not particularly dangerous to humans and only causes temporary minor irritation, burning skin, and itching for particularly sensitive individuals. This can occur In water when it releases stinging substances for defensive purposes that cause small abrasions of strong itching and slight burning.

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