People do not really like coming face to face with jellyfish, but actually jellyfish have superpowers. When we see them at the beach they look a bit limp and blistered as they lay in the sun. When they float in water, they are often transparent and particularly hard to see when they float just below the surface of the water. This is when one of their tentacles tends to touch and then sting us. It is amazing how they evoke elegance and serenity as they float along and then cause so much pain afterwards. But the jellyfish is actually one of the most fascinating animals on the planet – did I mention that jellyfish have superpowers too?
Jellyfish are Masters at Survival
To begin with, jellyfish are actually one of most abundant lifeforms that live in the sea. Current research numbers estimate that there are approximately 38 million tons of jellyfish that exist in the mesopelagic, which is only upper 200 meters of the ocean. Who knows how many more reside below this ocean layer. And jellyfish are quite common in all of the Earth’s oceans and they have gone on to colonize the vast majority of all marine habitats.
A big reason there are abundant is because that bodies made of jelly happens to be a very good strategy. Gelatinous kinds of bodies have actually evolved only three times and remain fairly unchanged for about 500 million years. This means they have survived every major extinction event that has eliminated some 99% of life on Earth.
Jellyfish have Superpowers
Scientists now know that these jellies have developed unique abilities through evolution. Some of these abilities almost appear to be supernatural. For instance, comb jellies can even create mesmerizing bio-luminescent displays. Another tropical species of jellyfish has even formed a symbiotic bond with photosynthetic algae, which have become their very own solar panels which allows them collect energy directly from the sun. There yet other species that produce huge quantities of offspring – in fact, female large moon jellyfish are known to release as many as 400,000 babies at one time.
And if all this isn’t enough, many of them have the power to go through their youth again. If environmental conditions become unfavorable, many of them can literally reverse their own development and turn themselves back into children jellyfish again to wait for conditions to improve.
Jellyfish have Amazing Childhoods
The jellyfish that belong to the class scyphozoa family have very remarkable, yet complicated life cycles. The different stages of life that these jellies go through are so different that many think they are a different species for a while. These jellyfish as adults reproduce and create thousands of babies referred to as planulae into the plankton. These planulae spend a few days roaming and floating around and then settle down on hard surfaces like rocks and such.
These planula eventually becomes a polyp, which is a small (2mm-3mm) lifeform that is stationary and feeds from little floating bits of these plankton. Then these polyps start reproducing asexually, and form a clone colony. Whenever it is time, these clones go through a process called strobilation, and they are transformed into something resembling pancake stack. And then one by one, they get released into the plankton that surrounds them.
Even though they are very tiny in size, and they lack the visible characteristics of adults, these little “pancakes” are actually tiny jellyfish. They will eventually become adults who reproduce and create thousands of more tiny jellyfish as they go through the cycle again – this of course assumes that they do not reverse their development under bad conditions.
A polyp can actually produce as many as thousands of baby jellyfish at any one time – and they can often keep doing this for several years. It is because of the combination of their amazing ability to reproduce couple along with the asexual abilities of polyps that allow swarms of jellyfish to appear suddenly out of nowhere. Yes, it is quite obvious to that jellyfish have superpowers.