Translucent ‘moon jellies’ invade Huntington Harbor – Orange County Register
There’s been an invasion of jellyfish in Huntington Harbor – but don’t worry, they’re not the stingy kind.
Hundreds of ‘moon jellies’ have been spotted throughout the marina in recent days, luring the curious to the waters edge to see them up close.
“I’m thrilled, I really am a marine biology nerd – anything that seems to be happening again, I don’t care,” said Jessica Roame, naturalist with the Newport Landing Whale Watching team, who went for see frosts on Wednesday January 26th.
Although they are a common jellyfish, they are not usually seen in such large numbers in the harbour, she said.
“It’s your personal aquarium,” she said of being able to see jellyfish up close in shallow water. “There are so many.”
Moon jellies move with the flow of the ocean, so one cannot predict where they will go or how long they will stay.
“You never know with the changing tide,” Roame said. “They’re a plankton, moving wherever the ocean wants to take them. They’re not able to go against the current.
Roame’s friend, Mark Girardeau, who runs the website Orange County outside, was informed of the frosts, and the two checked an area near the Huntington Bay Club where they were spotted, then also saw them near a public beach.
“Once I heard about the moon jellies in the harbor, I knew I had to go there to see them,” Girardeau said. “They don’t do much, just sort of drift, but they’re still really cool to see.”
Several would have been under a light next to a dock, which makes sense because they are invertebrates that don’t have a brain but have a way of sensing light and dark, Roame said.
They hunt plankton and phytoplankton for food, which often move across the surface of the water to find themselves near bright lights.
The moon jellies that Roame and Girardeau spotted were about the size of a palm tree, but some can reach 30cm wide.
“They only live for about a year in the wild,” Roame said. “They reproduce quite quickly and there are plenty of them.”
Jellyfish have been around for at least 500 million years, making them three times as old as dinosaurs, according to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Sea jellies survive without hearts, brains or lungs.
“They are 95% water and their movements are governed by the flow of the water in which they live,” reads the description of the creatures’ aquarium.
Translucent jellies with the long tentacles are often poorly wrapped, Roame said. But, because their stinging cells are so soft, they are usually not detectable on human skin; in fact, they’re often found in aquarium touch tanks, Roame said.
“If you go looking for these guys, they’re nice to touch, but they’re fragile,” she cautioned, “so I wouldn’t advise picking them up or touching them.”