Saturday, September 5, 2009

Things you find on a Queensland beach after a really windy night

Michele: After some rain showers on Thursday, the night was really, really windy. The windiest night we've had so far. Friday morning we were eager to see what might have washed ashore. Gavin found a HUGE cuttlefish bone. The thing was as long as a 2 liter soda bottle. Huge!

Also only the beach we found many small blue jellyfish. The photograph to the left shows two of the jellyfish that Lorna found and put to float in a 2 liter soda bottle (it is difficult to photograph things that are floating in a soda bottle!). The small one on the left without tentacles is a By-The-Wind sailor. On the top of it is a sail-like extension that catches the wind and blows the poor critters onto our beach. The one with long blue tentacles is a Blue Bottle Jellyfish.

Well the Blue Bottle Jellyfish, with its cute slighty-artsy name is known by another name in most parts of the world -- Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish. That is right, we had many small Portuguese Man-of-War washed up on the beach.My step-brother Chris once had a run in with one of these when he was ~18 years old. No, he didn't get stung by the jellyfish. The jellyfish had brushed against a rope of the boat and later while we were snorkeling, he brushed against the same rope. Oh man he was hurting! Readers who know Chris will know that this is a guy who can take a lot of pain but he was truly hurting that day.
By the way, don't tell my mom that these are actually Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish. We are just telling her that these are Blue Bottle jellyfish that happen to have a sting to them.

The Blue-Bottle Jellyfish are prevalent in the waters here in the warmer months but the locals don't fret about theses painful creatures as much as they worry about the Box Jellyfish, which will kill you outright. For this reason, stinger nets are set up at certain locations along the beach to make safe swimming enclosures. Also the beaches have stores of vinegar, which can be administered to stinger bites to reduce damage. The Blue Bottles tend to show up in the waters first. The ones we found were all small ones but I'm not sure I will be swimming in the sea outside of the stinger nets anymore.

Despite their evilness, the Blue Bottles are amazing looking creatures. The second photo is a better image of the jellyfish from Wikipedia. Robin, Will and I walked up and down the beach to see how many Blue Bottles we could collect. No, I didn't touch the critters. I used a stick to roll them onto a leaf and then covered them with another leaf. The kids were also very careful. We collected 7 of them and set them in the soda bottle with Lorna's two. Their blue streamers looked really cool at the center of the table. That night our dinner guests (Larry, Coreen, Kristen and Cindy) remarked that we had the most dangerous centerpiece they've every seen.

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