In the biological world not being seen is most species preferred mode of life. The lower down the evolutionary scale a species is the less this seems to matter.
Pelagia noctiluca a jellyfish found primarily in Bermuda and warm temperate waters is now on the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. This species is also called the purple striped jelly and the mauve stinger.
It’s pink to purple in color and will cause painful stings if swimmers come in contact with it. This species is well known for it’s luminescence which can be very beautiful. When this jellyfish is disturbed it will bioluminesce and the luminescence will most often be seen at night. Don’t not go wading around at night looking to it. It is best if you do your looking from the beach unless you want to risk getting stung.
Even for a scientist who has worked in the field for decades the Latin used in the genus species names can be confusing. In this case it isn’t if you take a little time to look it up. The genus “pelagia” means open ocean and the “noct” part of the species name means night and and the second part “luc” means light. This tells us that this species lives in the open ocean and glows in the dark.
The mauve stinger feeds on the larger zooplankton including fish eggs. It can be found Bermuda, in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and off California.
It forms actively swimming schools and is usually found within 40 feet of the surface. These schools can be large and contain over 600 animals within a cubic meter.
The mauve stinger hasn’t been seen in the northern Gulf Coast for about the last ten years and marine scientists don’t know why it has appeared or if it is here to stay. It doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the oil spill. The mauve stinger will most likely be with us for the rest of the tourist season and will probably be seen on the beaches for the next couple of years.
Stings should be treated like that of any other jellyfish. Individuals who are allergic or have a severe action should seek medical attention.
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