Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nick - True Stories About Jellyfish, Part 1

For a three or four year period in my childhood, my family would rent a house and vacation in Seaside, Florida for a few days out of every year. It was a nice location, the beach being only a block away, and we would spend our time hanging out in the water and finding creatures.

I was probably about 10 years old the year that we saw the dolphins.

They were out a ways from the shore, and we could see their dorsal fins popping out of the water. Of course, the natural thing to do was for me to try and convince my dad to swim out there with me.

So we swam and we swam. Turns out the dolphins were quite a ways farther away than it had seemed from the shore. I got tired and my dad carried me on his shoulders. Finally, we started to close in on the dolphins.

Understand that, at this point, my dad is swimming with a large child on his shoulders at an incomprehensible distance from the shore. (I don't know how many or what fraction of a mile it was because I have no concept of distance in the ocean.) This is when we learn why the dolphins are out there in the first place.

Slowly at first, and then closing in before we could move, the water in front of us begins turning pinker and pinker, the bright color encroaching on our location.

"What's that, dad?" I ask.

Before he has time to answer, the shapeless pink mass reaches and surrounds us: jellyfish. Thousands of jellyfish. Square miles of jellyfish, so densely packed that they simply look like pink sea from above.

So densely packed that I couldn't find a comparable image on the internet.

So my father, still holding me on his shoulders, swam through a swarm of jellyfish so densely packed that they rubbed against his skin on all sides for probably half an hour before clearing the gelatinous armada.

Not a one of them ever stung him, but imagine how horrible it would be to be stung by even one jellyfish at that distance from shore, let alone a whole fleet of them.

My dad said that they irritated his skin where he had just been brushing up against jellyfish for half an hour, but I think we got out of that one pretty lucky. Anybody else would have hurled me from their back and swam for their life.

Until next week,

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