The Truth (About) Stings
Want to check the stinging forecast before you head to the Chesapeake Bay? Check out NOAA's interpretive buoy system map here to see how ripe the water conditions are for concentrations of sea nettles.
Atlantic Sea Nettle
About: Bell-shaped with up to 24 stinging tentacles; typically milky-white and semi-transparent; some have maroon stripes on the bell.
Diet: Zooplankton, including other jellies (especially comb jellies)
Size: Bell can be up to 10 inches wide; tentacles as long as 20 inches
Range: Coastal waters from Cape Cod, Mass., to southern Texas
Population Status: In the past, jelly populations were kept in check by predators like sea turtles and jelly-eating fish. Due to the reduction of their predators, jelly populations are growing at alarming rates.
Predators: Sea turtles and other jelly-eating animals, such as tuna, sunfish, butterfish, and spiny dogfish, keep the jelly populations in balance. All seven species of sea turtles include them in their diets. The largest sea turtle species, the leatherback, depends on jellies for food. Because jellies are more than 90% water and an adult leatherback can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, one turtle can consume a lot of jellies!
Life Cycle of a Jelly
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