Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jellyfish and other shapshifters

So I think a lot about sea creatures. I love how in the ocean there is such a wealth of living proof that the distinctions we humans have made for things are not as well fitting as we like to think.

The creatures that live there often straddle the lines of what we would commonly think of as the distinction between plant and animal. For instance, I used to think anemones were plants! And there is an entire lake full of jellyfish that survive on the photosynthesis of algae inside their bodies (this is also how a bunch of corals get their fuel too)!

But one of the things that amazes me the most is the life cycle of the jellyfish. (More like jellyshift if you ask me!)

More basal marine animals like barnacles and jellyfish take many forms throughout their life cycles. Though these organisms go through similar stages (both stick themselves onto other objects/surfaces in a stage known as sessile), they go through stages so differently.

The barnacle rhizocephala is particularly strange and fascinating. (and also potentially scary if you have an aversion to parasites so be warned!)

Weirdest shit ever am I right?

Some polyps (one of the stages in a jellyfish's life) actually have the amazing ability to reconstruct themselves and re-begin the progress toward strobilation and into more adult stages. For me such creatures have been objects of study, fascination, and respect. I revere their ability to change in ways that blow my mind. I often lean on them as the perfect metaphors for personal transformation.

I love how weird things get out there there in the blue. And oh yeah this jellyfish can live forever apparently.

PS If any of my car-having friends in the Bay Area ever wants to take a day trip with me down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium I would be beside myself with joy.

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