Jellyfish Journal


Jellyfish float gracefully and pulse gently as they drift through the ocean. But when they are washed up on shore, they look like a disgusting pile of goo!

Regardless of their name, jellyfish are not fish, and they do not contain jelly. A jellyfish is little more than a balloon-shaped pouch of skin filled with mucus (sorry, but it's kind of like what's in your nose). They also have a central nerve cord and dangling, stinging tentacles.

Because jellyfish float with the current and don't swim very fast, they are easy prey. Their internal toxins and minimal food value make them unappetizing to most predators, but sunfish, leatherback turtles, and a few other creatures make jellyfish part of their regular diet. These predators have an extra row of "teeth" at the backs of their throats. After swallowing a jellyfish, they regurgitate it, pushing the "jelly" against the "teeth" to strain out the water and leave the edible tissue.


Jellyfish are not particular about what they eat. They don't stalk prey, and they don't go hunting. They just drift along and scoop up whatever their tentacles happen to brush against. They will even eat each other. Scientists have found one jellyfish inside another, and inside that one was the visible copepod or plankton the victim was eating before it got eaten.

Jellyfish don't even have to see their prey'which is good, since they don't have eyes. Day or night they just drift along, eating pretty much whatever comes their way.

God made the jellyfish like no other creature. It has been provided with everything it needs to thrive in its environment. He gave you what you need to thrive too'a brain that can discern good from bad. Since you have more to work with than the jellyfish, you don't have to take in just anything that comes along!


Swarms of jellyfish sometimes invade commercial fishing bays. They scarf up the food that baby fish would eat, so many of these fish die. That means a drastically reduced catch. Fishermen blame the jellyfish for invading their territory, but the jellyfish is simply looking for food.

One thing that may lure the jellyfish closer to shore is the huge amounts of fertilizers and sewage that industries dump into the water. This makes plankton (tiny animals and plants) grow like crazy, and this is the food jellyfish love. The plankton also makes the water low in oxygen, which kills regular fish but is fine for jellyfish.

Too much fishing also reduces the jellyfish's competition for food, and the jellyfish thrive even more. It is often humans meddling that starts the chain reaction, like a row of dominoes falling. The jellyfish just do what they do naturally.

The Gulf of Maine, for example, used to be a prime area for cod fishing. But too much fishing has driven the cod population down, so that their main food, copepods (tiny flealike crustaceans), has multiplied, and so has the jellyfish population.

Some people suggest halting commercial fishing to allow the cod population to come back. That may work, or it may not. Once the jellyfish have taken over, they are likely to stay. People could ship in species that eat jellyfish, but is more meddling really the answer? Maybe God will one day lead you to discover a solution to this nagging problem.

Jane Chase