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August 23, 2016 52 mins

Jellyfish are among the most adaptable, competitive organisms on the planet. They can grow back into their juvenile stage when resources are scarce, reproduce in massive groups and kill an adult human, among lots of other neat stuff. Learn all about em!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to you Stuff you Should Know from House Stuff
Works dot com. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm
Josh Clark with Charles W. Chuck Bryant with Jerry This
Stuff you should Know. Oh man, let's start over all

right now, it's okay, how you doing. I'm good. I'm
jet black still I'm coming out of it for sure,
but yeah, I'm a little jet like. I just I
was explaining off Mike that my body is four thirty
or five every morning. Does get up? Dummy? It's ten

fifteen eleven, and I go, no, it's not. It's dark.
No internal struggle. And it's a British voice too. It's like,
get up, you need your beans and blood sausage and
I port pies. How was that? Oh man, I want
another one so bad? You know, save that? Okay? Uh,

My like is not so much pronounced in the morning.
It's just at nine thirty at night, I fall over
wherever I'm standing, or said, you're just like cooking in
a walk and you just face first. You noticed the
burned face. Yeah, that's dangerous. Well it hurt pretty bad
because that walk grease gets pretty hot. It does walk,

But is this what walks? Who walks still, dude, you kidney, No,
it's are continents of people watch. Well, sure, but I
just I guess I just imagined like wearing a tennis
sweater tight around my neck, and I didn't say fond.
You're having a pot of boiling cheese. That's pretty seventies.

You know what, if you ever want a fon dupot
and like just because you think it'd be fun to
have a fond party, don't buy one new, just go
to a goodwill. I wanted for like three dollars. Yeah,
you mean I have an unused one? Is it pea green?
I don't know if I would cook out of a
pea green anything? Now? Yeah, all right, No, I wouldn't

pea green refrigerator, wouldn't need out of it p green car.
I just throw up anytime I want to go drop. Uh.
I'll tell you what I am excited about though. Jellyfish. Yeah,
this is now officially my second favorite seafaring creature after octopus.
Yeah for sure. Yeah, and this was close to like

the jellyfish was really tugging at my heartstrings. Yeah, and
the and the octopus just kept saying, you know what,
remember me, Remember the caramatophores. Watch this, bam, it looks
like something completely different. And then I remember it. I
was like, all right, octopus, you're right, jellyfish can't do that.
I'm Rocky the squirrel. Now I'm a Roman soldier. Now

I'm a cornucopia of vegetables in an oil painting. Uh.
They are pretty cool, Yeah, but the jellyfish is really amazing. Yeah.
The octopuses, though they're like they're doing it on purpose.
The jellyfish just accidentally kind of stumbles backwards into awesomeness.
You know, well, after five million years of practice, maybe seven,

we'll see it's amazing. So when you're talking about jellyfish,
a lot of people say, well, there's a jellyfish. That's
a jellyfish, that's a jellyfish. That lady walking down the
street with the leash got a jellyfish on the end
of right, And and you would say jellyfish, jellyfish, comb,
jelly dog, or weird cat lady who walks her cat. Yeah,

that's unwholesome. That's as unwholesome as walking a jellyfish down
the street on a leash. So there are such things
as comb jellies, and there's jellyfish, and you out there
who's lived maybe ten twenty years on this planet or more,
we've probably seen them both. But it turns out that
they look very similar. But as we're finding out, as

we get deeper and deeper into using genetics to do
taxonomy rather than our peepers, that doesn't necessarily mean they're related.
And actually there's there's some tremendous debate between just how
closely related jellyfish and comb jellies are. Tremendous debate. Yes,
we're very subdued. It depends on where you are among
like fifty people. If you're in the jellyfish department of

some like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I'll bet it gets
nuts a little vigorous. Yeah, they down some some old
English forty uh right, malt liquor and argue and to
get out the breast knuckles about taxonomy, so that the
two phila they are different. Uh, we're talking respectively for

jellyfish and comb jellies. Uh, Nadaria and yeah nice, And
there's seas before both of them, both island. So it
looks like center bites and sephora. Yeah, center bites. Yeah,

what is that? A centerbon that's no center bites. They
were the monsters in hell Raiser. Oh I thought it
was like a centabon that was in handy bite sized pieces.
That's a cinabyte. These are center bites. Gotcha? Where where
did this research come from? By the way, a big
shout out Smithsonian. They have a site called the Ocean
Portal amazing that has all sorts of great stuff on it. Yeah,

you can't go wrong with Smithsonian. That's their their logos.
There's this that forms the basis of this one. But
I also want to give a huge shout out to
another article I read a while back that I went
back and reread. Actually it's called They're taking Over, and
it was a New York View of Books article on it. Yeah. Uh,
well it reviewed a book on jellyfish, Yes, specifically jellyfish

blooms or when you'll see on the news like, oh
my gosh, there's five thousand jellyfish right here right now,
or thirty three thousand square miles of jellyfish. But we'll
get to that. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
So there's jellyfish and comb jellies and there we don't
know if they're related. They look a lot like they're
very much. Um, they seem related. So we're gonna talk

about both. Yes, right, so let's talk about him, chuck.
All right, Well we'll start off with the body, uh,
because well they're kind of all body. Uh. They both
jellyfish income jellies have they have a lot of differences,
but you know, when you look under the hood, they
have a lot of similarities, which is why you would
expect when people use their peepers, they would just think, well, yeah,

of course they're the same. Look at them. Don't don't
think too don't overthink it. That was early science. Don't
overthink it. So both of them have a couple of
major cell layers, the external epidermist and then the internal
one called the gastrodermist. And in between those is what
you think of as jellyfish. Yeah, that's the mesoglia, Yeah,

which is a great name for that, and it's the filling. Yeah,
it's ninety five. And in fact, jellyfish and come jellies
are about water. Yeah, seawater actually salt and water. They're
basically made up of the sea. I saw it put somewhere,
you know, it's amazing. Um. So they they have basically

one mouth where um stuff goes in and comes out.
It's like a u mouth and oral anus. Basically, I
don't even know if they refer to it as a mouth.
Do they like somewhere in this thing? Didn't it called
it literally like a body hole or something. Yeah, it's
it's a pretty basic, basic organism, but it does a

lot of things, so it's not Yeah, when you think
of mouth, you just think eating. Not necessarily, Hey, let's
put some sperm and egg in there too. It's like
all purpose. Yeah, but they don't necessarily need in a
mouth for eating because apparently they can absorb nutrients like
just through their skin. Yeah, so they have they don't
have a stomach, they don't have intestines, they don't have lungs.

They're just like, get in my get in my skin
nutrients and oxygen. And if you think about it, then
they don't need lungs, they don't need like a they
don't need a mouth, so they don't need to chew.
All this stuff requires a lot of energy. They actually
are extraordinarily efficient organisms, so they get a lot more

energy out of the stuff that they take in than
other things, which actually gives them a huge advantage we'll
see later. Uh. So the outer cells, they have this epidermis,
like we said, and it has what's called a nerve net,
and it's just this net of nerves literally, um. And
that it's it's it's their nervous system basically, and it's

the it's the most basic, Um, I guess brain like
structure of any organism on the planet, of any multicellular organism.
I guess that's right. And so in the nerve net,
not only does it have nerves, it also has some
sort of specialized cells, like some that detect light so
they can know that they need to move away from
that boat spotlight. Uh, and then some that tell them

whether they're moving up or down or whether they're upside down. Yeah, dummies,
that's a that's a big one. You think about it.
But I mean, like, that's if you don't have no
But this is the weird part, man. This is so
disturbing to me. This is almost as disturbing as squid
having beaks. Some types of jellies, box jellies in particular,

um box jellyfish have eyes, they have retinas lenses, but
they don't have a brain. So scientists are like, how what,
how are you processing these images that you're clearly taking
in and responding to. Like we've shown you pictures of
like um Sheryl lad and you like gave a thumbs up.

So obviously you can use these eyes. But how are
you sorting these images? You know? Yeah, they think it's
that that nerve ring, but they're not sure, right, and
that's a ring around Uh, it's concentration of nerves basically
that they haven't figured out yet, but they think that's
therein is the secret. It'd be like, um, it would

be like now, I can't come with a good analysis.
There's a million of them out there, but I'm not
still jetlagged. I guess you'll think it one. I just
want to apologize to everybody because that could have been great.
I was on the edge of my seat. Uh. So,
comb jellies they have a few things that the regular
jelly does not have, uh, most notably the comb their

name for these uh sillia, these giant fuse cilia. There's
eight rows up and down their bodies and they basically
are there ways of locomoting neck like little bit the
oars paddling around in the water. And there are other
animals that do this, but the comb jelly is the
largest one to do this and to use this kind
of locomotion, And it looks like a rainbow if you

look one up, but you think it might be bioluminescent,
but it's not. It's just light catching the silia and
scattering it. It's beautiful. It is quite beautiful. But that's
the thing that that separates comb jellies from jelly jellyfish
most um pronounced lee right, Yeah, because a lot of
their activities and just the stuff that they do, it's

fairly similar the TV they watch, Yeah, but their means
of locomotion are are really the big, huge distinction. Yeah.
The a lot of the comb jellies have a single pair,
just two tentacles, but it looks like more because they
branch out um and they use those like little fishing
lines because they have sticky cells uh color blasts at
the end. And this is different uh big time the jellyfish.

They don't sting. No, they use glue, which is pretty neaty.
You won't be stung by a comb jelly, So just
swim up and hug one. They love it when you
do that. So um. When you think of a jellyfish,
like a true jelly is what what they're called. Um
there you think of like kind of this bell shaped,

umbrella shaped thing with the tentacles hanging down. Beautiful. And
if it's a jellyfish, that's actually one of two forms
that it will take in its lifetime. Right, Um, it's
that's the medusa form, and it's it's the adult form.
There's a juvenile form called a polyp, and um, depending
on when it is in its life cycle, it will

either be in a meduca form or polyp form. Yeah,
and we'll get into the little more of the life cycle.
But a polyp can end up becoming a medusa or
just might be happy as a little polyp and just
stay as a polyp and create more meducea. Yeah, And
the polyp looks like, um, it almost looks like a plant.
It looks like a little stalk attached to something, usually

the sand or as we'll see, maybe a oil rig
out in the middle of the ocean or something, or
cher a lad. That's right, because she's she's a deep
water dweller at this point. Um, So it looks like
a little plant. It's got it. It It looks like a
little stalk. And then the uh, tentacles are blooming out

of it, almost like a flower, yeah, like anemone or
something like that. Yeah, And sometimes you see them many
many of them together in a colony. You think that's
an amazing plant. That's actually a jelly. Yeah, pretty cool
if you would be able to tell if you poked
it with your finger. That's right. So the size among
jellies ants and um comb jellies are I mean, some

of are just microscopic, others get pretty big. If there's
one called the lion's main jellyfish, which on the whole
across like the whole species, they are the largest jelly
fish known to humankind. Did you see this thing? Yeah,
it looks like photoshop when you see a scuba diver
up next to one. It definitely does. Like the bell

actually gets to be six ft wide, ye. Yeah, and
the tentacles are like, um long, fifty long, yeah, and
some some get bigger than that. But that's you know,
the average size of one of those. This is pretty neat. Yeah,
I mean they're not to be feared, but swimming up

to something that large and that kind of creepy looking
is not for me. That's all. I'll say that eats anything.
It'll eat anything like people. Yeah, no, I won't need
a person. I don't know if they were big enough
it it might all right. So let's talk a little
bit about the various types. UM. We'll start with Nadaria,

which is the the jellyfish itself, not the comb. There
are more than ten thousand species, uh, and about four
thousand or fewer actually are what we think of as
the true jelly the medusa that we know and love, uh.
And within that there are quite a few different types,
one of which is the skiffa zoa. And this is

the most common true jellyfish that you can imagine. When
you picture jelly fish in your mind, you're probably thinking
of the skiffa zoa UM. The hydrozoa are um imposts. Well,
they're they're the ones who they spend most of their
time as polyps, right, So the skiff a zoa spend

most of their time in the medusa phase. The hydrozoa
are the ones that look like plants at the bottom
and are just reproducing like mad um. And they actually
can come together and create what are called colonial siphon
of force. And that's a you know, a Portuguese man
of war. Yeah, okay, so that is actually not a

true jellyfish. It's actually a collection. It's a it's a
colony that comes together to act like one large organism, right,
and it's made up of persons. So like there's the
person that is in charge of digestion, there's the person
that's in charge of catching prey. There's the person that's
in charge of locomotion. And rather than these things being

bodied parts, they're actually individual organisms that are genetically identical
the one another because they all come from the same egg.
But they're actually a colony. Does that make sense? Like,
imagine if your organs were various actual organisms that came
together to make you. It's like the polyphonic spree of

the ocean world. Exactly. It's amazing. That's exactly what I
was driving at. Uh. Next up, we have the Cuba
zoa and that's you mentioned the box jellyfish. They look
like a box is more squared looking. Those are the
most dangerous ones. Yeah. They have the most potent venom,
and it is of us stuff, not just of jellyfish,
of any animal on the planet. Yeah, the sea wasp

has the most powerful venom for humans, I should say
the sea wasp in that just awesome sounding. Yeah, that
sounds like something you want to avoid at all costs. Yeah.
Uh so these guys are the ones that have a
more complex nervous system, that have the the eyes right

with the corneas and things, which so they're the most
deadly and they're looking at you. Yeah, they're saying, I'm
coming for you. The star o zoa. Uh stock jellyfishes,
and they don't float. They are actually like to cling
onto things and attached to things, and they're mainly cold water.
But all you can find most all kinds are not

all kinds. You can find some kind of jellyfish and
almost any kind of water, any kind of ocean water
in the world. Well not just that there's some thriving
fresh water. There's a type of jellyfish that is um
all over the Great Lakes. It was originally it's native
to China, and they think that it was brought over
originally from China to England in like a water lily shipment,

because it was first discovered in the westn like garden ponds,
and it somehow made its way to the Great Lakes.
And now there's a freshwater jellyfish that's about I think
the size of your thumbnail, depending on what size your
thumbnail is in the Great Lakes, that's a jellyfish, and
it's a true jellyfish. And we should say also with
um jellyfish locomotion, they don't use the silly a like

a comb jellyfish does. They in Medusa form expand and
contract the bell, right, And I was reading I think
it was a Scientific American or Popular Science one of
those two all posted on the podcast Pitch, but it
was they some researchers examined how jellyfish move and they

found that not only are they like um able to
move when they when they expand and then contract in
the resting motion of their bell, of vortex actually forms
in the water above them and moves beneath them and
moves them up that way. So they're constantly moving, but
they're only exerting like half of the energy needed to

move forward, to propel forward or upward. Right. So that's
even one more way that they're an incredibly efficient type
of animal. Yeah, without a brain, they're pretty smart. Yep,
you know what I mean. Uh, should we take a break?
All right, We'll take a break, and we're gonna come
back and dive into the wonderful world of comb jellies.

All right, So we talked about just a few of
the standard jellyfish. The comb jellies are way way fewer
species of the tina fours. Um, we're talking I think
ten thousand for the other. This is about a hundred
to a hundred and fifty. Yeah, not even hundred hundred fifty. Yeah,
But they're saying that it's possible that these are just

the ones we are aware of because um, we've encountered
them in coastal waters that may be way more in
deep sea. Yeah. They don't know much about those guys, right, right.
And the ones that are in deep see that we've
encountered tend to be so fragile that we can't collect them. Yeah,
because they're not tough, because they don't have to put
up with you know, their meriads and waves and yeah,
they just float out there and yeah, you look at

them too hard and they crumble. Um. So one type
of a comb jelly is uh sodipid uh and they
are all round their spherical or oval. They have those
branch tentacles that we talked about, and those tend of
goals are a little unique and that they can actually
draw them back into the body when it's cold, yeah,
which is pretty cool. Really okay, so I believe, uh yeah.

And they have like sheaths on the sides of their
mouths that it draws back into, which is pretty cool. Amazing. Um.
Then there's low baits, uh, which have lobes on the
sides right, um, and that's about it. They have the
lobes and that's what they're known for. Baroids. These are

kind of cool. These are the dudes that have no tentacles.
So the way they eat is they have a big,
big mouth that draws in a lot of stuff and
then a very tight, almost zipper like thing that shuts
and then they can shut that mouth really hard and
just wash all that stuff up. Well, they have cilia
inside their mouths that act like teeths that pull their

prey apart alive teethes tooth teeth. Yeah, oh man, that's weird.
Set leg um. But the little the teeth just pick
it like their prey and just pull them apart. It
dissolves them basically mechanically. Amazing. Have you ever seen a
video of um, the uh, the pelican who's just standing

there and there's a pigeon like on the ground right
in front of him, and all of a sudden, the
pigeon the pelican just eats the pigeon, and the pigeons
like trying to get out of the pelicans like huge mouth,
and the pelicans just sitting there like nothing's happening, and
then finally like the pigeon stops moving. It is really
disturbing because you you, you know, like pelicans don't normally

eat live pigeons, so there's like there's something wrong with
this pelican or it was just like no remorse whatsoever. Yeah,
it's a it's a disconcerting video, especially if you're a
pigeon lover, which I'm not. I'm it's not like I
hate pigeons, but you don't want to see him get
you know, eaten eaten by a pelican. Yeah, it's it's weird.

It's totally strange. Where do you find the stuff it's around?
It's so weird. I think you may showed me that one. Yeah,
you guys always have a lot of weird videos. Your fingertips,
You and you me are just always talking about like
did you see the one where you know the pelican
ate the pigeons. Yeah, I guess so that's pretty neat.

Um Comb jellies distribution wise, they are also all over
the oceans. Uh. They do perform a little warmer water though,
but you can't find them anywhere. Um. So we're talking
earlier about the fact that they are from different phyla
and that there's this, you know, drunken argument going on
among scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquaria about how how

closely related they are. Um. They used to all be
described as uh seln selenerata, which is hollow bellied. Oh yeah,
makes sense, but they don't. They don't say that anymore,
not in these and if you want to be ridiculed
by your peers, call them that. But some people say,
you know, their sister groups. Some people say, nope, they're

not even that closely related. Uh so the debate rages on.
I guess yep. So. Um. What what's interesting is that
we even know how long jellies have been around because
there they have no solid parts. Yeah, you'd think it'd
be hard to find a fossil. They have gelatinous parts.
They don't have any hardened parts. Yeah, that would be

fossilized easily. But there have been some discoveries, some amazing
discoveries of jellyfish and um comb jellies from about five
million years ago. It's the I believe, the oldest known
specimens found. And there's this one found in Utah because
apparently Utah used to be a shallow inland sea and
it had these jellyfish in it. And I guess something

happened to this jellyfish. It was crushed by a rock,
something a lot of pressure, I would think, but all
of a sudden it just captured it. Because it's it's
like a perfect it's like a drawing of a jellyfish
in a rock. It's amazing, UM. And it's the oldest
fossil and it's five million years old. So it was

a pretty lucky find actually to find this, this jellyfish
that should not have been fossilized. That was fossilized. So
we do know that there um about two hundred or
a hundred and fifty million years older than fish. Fish
weren't even around by then. UM. And they think that
possibly see comb or jelly comb or sorry comb jellies

were UM it's possible they were the earliest animals to
branch off even more, even earlier than sponges. Well, didn't
they find that the jellyfish was the first animal in
the sea that didn't just float along like a dummy,
that actually used muscles to swim places. Yeah, and it
was possible it was the comb jellies that did that.

So it's possible that comb jellies branched off from the
tree of life. So it's just one type of animal.
Then all of a sudden, there's a comb jelly. Right,
what is this black magic you speak of? Right? And
then maybe the jellyfish at some later point branched off
of the comb jelly right. Um, But either way, it
would have been the cumb jelly and or the jellyfish

that were the first to say we're going this way. Yeah,
you guys are just floating around like a bunch of
morons waiting for food to hit You were embarrassed for you. Well,
speaking of food, they are all carnivorous and they eat,
like you said, they'll eat anything. They love plankton, but
they eat fish, they eat crustaceans, some eat other jellyfish,

which is disgusting. Um. And those uh neumaticist and color blasts,
the stingers or the glue guns. Um, they are good
for defense. But uh, there are a hundred and fifty
animals that also eat the jellies. Fish and seat turtles.
There's the sunfish loves them weather back seat turtles love them.

They they journey to find them, that's how much they
love them. The Chinese, Yeah, they eat human beings eat jellyfish. Yeah.
It's apparently a wedding delicacy in China and has been
for about fifteen sixteen hundred years. Yeah. Ours is catered
salmon and uh chicken marbella. Uh yeah, fo thousand tons

of jellyfish are caught each year in fifteen countries, mainly
in Southeast Asia's where they're eating these. Yeah, but um,
I read that Georgia, our state of Georgia, um has
a commercial jellyfish fishery. Really big Gem's jellies you preserved
in Moonshina. You totally eat jellyfish? Would sure? I would

try it. Yeah, apparently it's also um it's served in
Japan too. It's salted, which would be good. I would
try raw. I would try raw jellyfish and sushi or
something like that. But I would guess that salted, stripped
and jellyfish are probably vastly preferable. I'm not nearly as
adventurous as you with my my mouth and my stomach,

but I might try jellyfish, even though I'm talking about
how much I love it. Right, you just cry while
you ate? Yeah, exactly. You were so beautiful. Um well,
I would eat um wooly mammoth. Oh yeah, and you
like them? Yeah? Uh. You gotta bring floss when you

eat wooly mamma. Supposedly that does nothing. Have you heard
about that? Oh? Yeah, then the new studies it's flossing
is no good. Well, we talked about that. I think
what they said. It depends on who you talk to.
Some people are saying like, no, they just realize that
no one's ever done a scientific study to back up
that flossing is good for you. And other people are
saying like, no, they did some studies and found that

it doesn't do anything, which I cannot believe. We either
just talked about this the last recording session, or we
talked about it on stage. Oh, we probably talked about
it on stage because it came out while we were
in the UK. Okay, all right, but the idea that
getting rotting food out from between your teeth, has no
positive health benefits for you, is just it defies explanation. Agreed,

it was on stage because I made a crack about
missing my teeth. Oh yeah, I remember now, uh. Feeding
As far as them feeding on other things, we talked
about these tentacles that they have to capture prey and
these nematicists. It's amazing these basically they're described in the
article as venom bearing harpoons. So what happens is there's

a queue. Uh it's either uh something has touched them
or it's a chemical uh queue that something is around,
and they shoot out this little harpoon and within seven
hundred nana seconds it spears the prey and releases a toxin. Yes,
and it's it's frightening. Yeah. If you um, if you're

a fish, you're in trouble. If you're another jelly fish,
you're in trouble. Something smaller than that, you're just totally dead.
And depending on the jellyfish, if you're a human being
you can die. As a matter of fact too. Yes,
we talk about that, dude. Yeah, So the um, there's
the sea wasp obviously, which has the most toxic venom
on Earth as far as humans are concerned. But then

there's also another type of m box jellyfish that are
much tinier. I think they're about thumbsized or peanut sized. Yeah,
you could. You don't even see these things, or if
you do see them and they brush against you, you're
probably not even gonna feel the sting. The arakanji, yeah,
which is a an Aboriginal word for for this type

of jellyfish. Right, there's a dude in the sixties, a
Westerner who um was like, what what is with this jellyfish?
I I've heard weird things about it. I don't know
much about it. I'm gonna go out and let myself
get stung by one where didn't get killed very easily
by something at any given point Australia. Yeah, exactly, because
they're the ones. They've got the sea wasps too, and

they have to do with the c U saying these
little guys the eru kanji. Is that how we agreed
we're gonna say it. Yeah, iri kanji iri kanji. So
this guy survived, but he um not not well. But
you had a hard time getting to the point where
they're like, you're going to survive. Yeah, he was lucky
to survive. So you get a sting from one of

these things, just a single tentnicle. Apparently in about twenty
to thirty minutes, what's called Ira Kanji syndrome starts to
sit in and you feel it in your lower back first, right, Yeah,
and you don't know you've been stunk. So you're just like, oh, man,
like I tweaked my back out there in the ocean,
and then things really start going south. Then you go

and throw up your right kidney. Yeah. And the articles
and said it feels like someone hits you with a
baseball bat and your kidneys and then comes to nausea
and vomiting, which continues every minute or so for around
twelve hours. Yeah. You get spasms in your arms and legs,
your blood pressure increases, your skin begins to creep. It says,

as if worms are burrowing through it. Yeah. So I
saw a video of a guy who was stung and
he said it felt like someone was pouring acid all
over my body. Yeah, from just being brushed by this
thumb sized, tiny little jellyfish. U. And then there's this
is the creepiest thing to me. It says. Victims are
often gripped with a sense of impending doom and begged
their doctors to kill them. Yeah, can you imagine. And

they're spreading their range. Actually they found him off the
coast of Florida. They found him off the coast of
South Africa. Yeah, so yeah, they're not to be messed
with alright, So down with the ira kanji? Right. Have
you ever heard that you should pee on somebody who's
been stung by a jellyfish? I've seen friends, so that's
not true. And they've actually found that could make it worse. Yeah,

but there's actually some science to it. Right, So if
you get if if you get stung by a jellyfish,
if it's technacle hits you, and and you're stung by
an a maticist, there may be some leftover ones still
attached to your arm, right, and you want to get
rid of those. But if you get rid of them,
if you pour they just fresh water on them, you're

gonna trigger You're gonna trigger the little harpoons inside because
they're held in place by a specific concentration of salutes, right,
so if you change that concentration by hitting it with freshwater,
you're gonna set them off. You seawater because they're held
in check in seawater normally, so you see water to

wash it off, and then you take a credit card
and scrape the rest of them off. Yeah, but some
kind of you know, what if you if you don't
have your credit card on you, sure if you're not.
But supposedly you're supposed to keep sand out of it,
which is tough to do. Sure I did it. Don't
be dumb on it. Years back on the what you
do in the chair. All sorts of weird stuff. Remember

all right, Well, getting back to the feeding. Uh, we
covered the harpoon themis of the jelly. But the comb jelly,
like we talked about earlier that um, this is the neumatosis.
They have the glue instead of the venom. So what
they do is they just send out that fishing line
and release that sticky glue and it reels whatever it

catches right on into the mouth. Pretty cool, like something
being sucked towards the death star. Yeah, exact a tractor beam.
You got caught in a tractor beam? Basically, should we
take a break. Oh wait, there was one other thing,
so one type of comb jelly. This is so awesome.
They actually eat true jellies and then they take their

neumatesis and use them for their own hunting. How like?
How so they think they absorbed them and shoot them
out and there they save them. Yeah, they took him
in their cheek for later. Can they get an unlimited
supply of these? I don't know. It's curious if you
could see with like three hundred of them. Look, look

how many I've eaten. It's like, don't be a pig.
Sure you spit some of those out. Uh? Now, can
we take a break? Yes, all right. By the way,
we just satisfied that one listener because you rejected my break.
Oh yeah, that's true. How about that? Man a lie?
All right, We'll be back and talk a little bit
about defence, all right, so I promised talk of defense. Um.

These things you've probably seen, jellyfish and comb jellies that
produce light, this bioluminescence. Although when I said earlier the
comb jelly when it looks colorful, that is not bioluminesce. Sense,
they are still bioluminescent, just not in that way, right,
Still confusing, They actually do produce light. Uh. They have
these proteins that have a chemical reaction to produce this

blue and green light when something might touch it. And yeah,
like moon jellies are well known for this. Yeah, and
they're not exactly sure why, but they think that this
could be a defensive mechanism to like either scare someone
trying to eat you by turning a light on their
face or turning a light on and attracting something larger
to eat that thing. Either way, they think it's defense.

And then alternately, some jellyfish have um camouflage actually not
as good as the octopus. No, no, no, no, not
at all, but I mean obviously some are are most
are transparent. It's pretty good camouflage. Um. And then some
of the deep sea ones are actually red. They produce
a red pigment and the red apparently is very very

difficult to see in deep water, which is like two
ars or more where there's no light. Yeah, you think
it would be black, but they say that the red
is easier to produce and exactly, so black would work.
It's just you try making black pigment, Yeah you can't,
and reads the same down there. Yeah, it's all black.
It's all the same. So um, some of them do that,

and then others have just red pigment in their gut
so that if they eat a bioluminescent organism, it's not
going to accidentally attract a predator to come check them out. Interesting. See,
this is really the octopus is threatened in my heart
still a little bit now that I'm talking about this.
It's unstable. We'll see. I'll give a final vote at

the end. So to me, this is now we get
to the most amazing part, well, one of the most
amazing parts about Jelly's time. Yeah, so, which is not
very sexy. No, although it's like every kind of sex
you can imagine jellyfish engage in, and not just different
species like individuals. Some are hermaphroditic, some are sexually divided,

some are a sexual yep. Some yeah, some reproduce a
sexually sometimes in some species like the moon jelly. I
believe they'll all get together in one big mass and
just start swapping sperms and eggs. Yep, spit them out
of that mouth. Hoole, there, get some boxed wine the
parties on. Put on Michael Bolton though your house, your

house keys in a big wooden bowl right now, you
have it. That's the jellyfish way. Uh So, the medusa
that that you know and love is the main true jelly.
They spawn. So what they do is they release a
bunch of eggs and sperm into the open ocean a
lot of times altogether. And they do this from their

mouth whole and take it in their mouth whole, and uh,
the sperm meets the egg and that's how it happens. Yeah,
ideally or um in some kinds, the uh, the eggs
stay in the mouth of the female and the male
just shoots sperm out into the water and the sperm

find their way into the mouth. It's a way to go.
Or they fertilize outside in the water, like you were saying. Um.
And then in others there they don't even necessarily get together. Yeah,
they'll just be like a pollop will just be sitting
there spewing out sperm or eggs gam eats like all

day long. One one type spews out like forty thty
six thousand a day, every day, all the time. Um.
And then the whole idea is that eventually maybe it'll
run into another gam eat and fertilize out. Actually, oh,
is that a comb that does that? Okay. The polyps

are the ones that are a sexual and they just
bud and divide in half basically to produce a little
identical buddy, and then that can stay a polyp, or
it can eventually become a meduza. Yeah, because that's the thing,
like the polyp is a it's a stage of a jellyfish,
the jellyfish life cycle. It can be which can be it. Yeah,

that's true. You can you can just stay a polyp,
or you can eventually become a medusa. Yeah, and we
didn't say that the the Depending on the jellyfish, it
might live for a few weeks or a year. Apparently
they do better in captivity and tend to live up
to several years in captivity. Yeah. I get the idea.
They're pretty fragile out there in the ocean. Yeah. Um,
but they can reproduce so frequently and so early on

in their life cycle, um, that they can populate an
area very quickly to despite having a very short lifespan. Uh.
And then in the polyp stage, some species can stay
there for well basically almost indefinitely and just sit there
and reproduce. There's a type of reproduction in the polyp
stage where um it's called strobe lation, and the little

polyp is sitting there just shooting off these little disks,
ten to fifteen at a time. And they found that
depending on the temperature of the water, um, and the
warmer the water, the more they strobo late um, they'll
there'll be more and more jellyfish that they just kind
of shoot off like this article put it like shooting
off clay pigeons. Yeah, right, and then each one just

transforms into a medusa. Man, that's amazing. Yeah. Octopus, Yeah,
it's in trouble. Uh. And then oh, this is super cool.
The Tatopsis neutricula. It is basically immortal. It is a
hydrozoan and it can actually revert back to the poly

up stage after the medusa stage through trans differentiation and
live forever essentially unless it gets killed obviously by something. Uh.
And it is the only animal that anyone knows of
that can do this. Yeah, amazing. There's another type of
Teratopsis to that. Um. When it dies, it disintegrates, but

it sells some cells as it's as it's decaying come
back and form another individual. So it basically fertilizes itself
using its dying body and regenerates. Like yeah, it's tapped
into the force all right, So we talked earlier about
these jellyfish blooms, um or outbreaks or plagues, worms, what else.

That's okay. Um, it is great that these things are
proliferating like other species. It aren't. But it can get
out of hand. It can interfere with people. Uh, it
can interfere with machinery at power plants on the coach
cause power out of out of just fisheries, they can

get in the way where people are trying to fish
for something else, they're getting their jellyfish. Yeah. And there's
been examples of all this stuff happening over time, Like
they shut down the USS Ronald Reagan once, which is
a nuclear powered warship, because it got a bunch of
jellyfish got sucked up into the cooling system. Um. They've
shut down power plants in India, in Japan, in the Philippines, um.

And they think there's there's if there's a debate over
whether comb jellies and jellyfish are related, there's a huge
debate over whether or not we're seeing a natural outcome
of uh, just jellyfish life cycles blooms like this is
just happening. Yeah, is this a normal thing or are

we humans contributing to it? And if we humans are
contributing to it, they basically say, there's probably one of
four ways that this is happening. Yeah. One of them
is overfishing basically just less competition for food. Uh. They
they're eating this zooplankton, and if other fish that normally
eat that aren't there, then the jellyfish like sweet more

for me, think buffet open. Apparently jellyfish dude, are not
known to um go on diets. They just gorge themselves constantly. Yeah.
What else nutrients? Yeah, when we uh, when we release
fertilizers from crop land into areas where jellyfish live, we
can cause alga blooms, it runs off eventually into the sea. Yeah,

and it actually can deplete oxygen. So there's two things. One,
you've got a bunch of zooplankton and phytoplankton, which um, well,
I guess they're eating the zooplankton that jellyfish eat, right,
And then you have lower oxygen, which jellyfish can live
in and survive in a lot more easily because again

they have a much lower metabolism than most other organisms
that they're competing for food with, So their competition again
is dying off. While they're just like, this is great, now,
I'll just keep eating moral they thank you humans for
putting all this nitrogen and phosphorus in the water. You
start to get the idea why these things have been
around for five seven hundred million years. They can compete

uh climate change with the warming ocean. Um. Some of
those jellies love it. Uh. Their embryos and larvae developed
better and more quickly, so the populations grow more quickly,
and a lot of them prefer that warmer water, so
they say, bring it on, yeah, and they're actually, like
I said, there was at least one study that UM

looked at how jellyfish reproduce in warmer water and also
water that's of higher acidity, which they're predicting through ocean acidification, UM,
which is the result of higher C O two increases,
and both of those just that jellyfish are gonna do
just fine under the climate change that we're facing. So

cockroaches and jellyfish are the only things that are gonna
be around one day. Uh. And then finally what they
call ocean sprawl, UM, it's you know what, we're building
things out in the middle of the ocean now drilling
platforms and docks and oil platforms, uh, hard structures and jellyfish.

The polyps especially that we were talking about that they
attached to something sand or Cheryl Lads belly button is
not the easiest thing to attach toy Lad was born
without a belly button. That it was very insensitive of me. Uh,
you just threw me there. So what they do love

to attach to is something solid. So they love, um,
they love attaching onto the ocean sprawl and oil rigs
and whatever else is out there. And they do very
well attached to a firm uh not the Cheryl Lads
belly button isn't firm, but it's done a certainly not
an iron girder. So um, there's this really great story

about jellyfish and just how quickly they can take over.
Right um, in the Black Sea, when a ship releases
its cargo, is it off the coast of Germany. Yeah, no,
that's the North and the Baltic. Don't try and screw
me up here. This is the Black Sea where they
make caviar, right um. And actually there's some like entire

national economies are based on things like caviar and um
sardines and anchovies and just all these amazing fish. And
this ship apparently took on some seawater after it released
its cargo to keep itself stable, right, And when it
got to the Black Sea, it released it. And one
of the things that released was this type of jellyfish

called the sea walnut. And this is sounds cute. So
the first sea walnut makes its way into the Black Sea,
and two thousand two, the total biomass of sea walnuts
in the Black Sea, just the Black Sea was ten
times the total biomass of all the fish that were

taken from the world's oceans by commercial fishing. It got jellyfied, basically. Yeah.
And they were competing with um the the the other
fish for the zooplankton and the food source and winning
big times. And so all these fisheries collapsed, all these
economies were in trouble. And then it just so happened
that some other ship had picked up a different type

of jellyfish that actually was a natural predator of the
sea walnut and came along and saved the day totally
by a stroke of luck. The sea walnut cracker. Yeah, yep,
I did see that. Actually, you sent me that that's amazing. Yep,
so it all worked out. Everything about jellyfish is amazing. Yeah,
final score for me octopus one jellyfish. Whoa, that is close.

It is nice. Just one three pointer at the end
could have won it, but it didn't. Nope, it rimmed out.
So if you want to know more, you've got anything else. Nope.
You want to know more about jellyfish and comb jellies
and that kind of stuff. You can type those words
into the search part how stuff works dot com. And
since I said search parts time for listener mail, that's right,

it's three pm, which means, uh, our bedtime has just
send him about four short hours. Um. I actually tried
to go to bed before my one year old daughter
the other night. Yeah, and it said now that that's
bad parenting. Sure you just so you put yourself to bed.
Oh wait, and she finally drifted off at like a
thirty and I was out at eighty two. Um, all right,

I'm gonna call this you help me get married. Hey, guys,
I recently got married to my beautiful wife congratulations, with
whom I've been with for over eight years. While the
prospect of being married to her never frightened me, at all.
The thought of having to be in the center of attention,
professing my love to my then fiance in front of
all of our guests and try not to look like

a dummy during the ceremony was how do you say, nauseatingly, frightening, terrifying.
Excuse me, um, yeah, Stephen was not. He's not a
public speaker, I don't think. However, during the hours leading
up to the ceremony, I kept my mind occupied by
listening to the melodious tones of your voices teaching me
about well, some things I really don't remember. Honestly, I

was a little occupied. So we were literally just like,
what is it called a s m R. Yeah, just
these tones. He didn't even know what we were talking about.
It was just the sounds of our voices suited him,
which is very nice. Yeah, it is nice regardless, guys,
everything ultimately went very well and we are both now

very happy to be together for good and to not
have to plan a wedding again. Thank you for helping
me get through the worst of my pre wedding anxiety
I was gonna say the worst day of my life
at first, and for making such a terrific podcast and
that is Stephen Hall, who's a PhD candidate in pharmacology. Well,
thanks a lot, Stephen, congratulations. Send us some as annex

popping in the mail. He's a candidate, a PhD candidate,
he doesn't have access to that kind of stuff. Well,
I guarantee you he won't be a candidate anymore if
he starts sending us there. It's mailing people pharmacutical Give
him his badge, Stephen, don't listen to Chuck. If you
want to get in touch with us for any reason whatsoever,
you can tweet to us. So that's why sk podcast.
You can join us on Facebook, dot com, slash Stuff

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