"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

March 4, 2015

Mar. 3 - Key Largo, FL

Tarpon Basin - Anchorage

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?” ― Rachel Carson

We moved a little further up the Keys today. There's no need to be in a hurry since the earliest window for our crossing looks like Sunday or Monday. It was still very windy today with gusts in the 20-25 MPH range. We are securely anchored in a pretty spot well protected from the east wind and out of the rough water. Stan spent most of the afternoon filling out insurance papers for a new company we're using for The Pearl...then a trip to town for copies and a few groceries. Not an exciting day.

I've been noticing a different looking jellyfish in the water this past week and was curious what they were. They are brown and look different than the normal jellies we see. The water in the Keys is very clear, so I've also noticed the bottom near some of the dinghy docks look like a flower garden (see photo). I remember the guide at Pigeon Key pointing out an upside-down jellyfish in their natural pool...the flower looking things I've been seeing are jellies. The same brown looking ones we've also spotted swimming close to the surface.

Upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea) is a genus of true jellyfish. They are found in warmer coastal regions around the world, including shallow mangrove swamps, mudflats, canals, and turtle grass flats in Florida and the Caribbean. They look like a normal jellyfish when swimming, but they spend most of their time living upside-down on the bottom. Where found, there may be numerous of them in varying shades of white, blue, green and brown. Its brownish color is caused by symbiotic algae living inside the jelly's tissues. By lying upside-down, the jelly exposes its algae to the sun, allowing it to photosynthesize.

The jelly lives off food the algae produce, as well as zooplankton. They have a mild sting, but sensitive individuals could have a stronger reaction. The stinging cells are excreted in a mucus; swimming over the jellyfish (especially using swim fins) may cause transparent sheets of this mucus to be lifted up into the water where the unsuspecting swimmer may encountered it. The sting appears in the form of a red rash-like skin irritation and can cause extreme itching.

The bottom near the dinghy dock at Worldwide Sportsman yesterday.
I couldn't get a good picture of the jellies close to the surface, so here are a few I found on the Internet.

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