We were walking along the shore of Qingdao’s Shilaoren beach （石老人海水浴场） today, just past that drainage river thing near where the ATV rental guys who think they own the beach are, and found THIS:
That is the biggest honking jellyfish （水母 or 海蜇） I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I flipped it over with my shovel:
From a distance I thought it was just some garbage (there’s lots of garbage). But man. Can you imagine bumping into this in chest-deep, murky Qingdao beach water?
And keep in mind that my size-13 foot isn’t hovering *that* close to it, so the photos’ perspective makes the jellyfish look smaller that it really was.
I’d heard from friends about a local jellyfish infestation and checked the Chinese news yesterday. One guy has died this summer from jellyfish. And people we chatted with while taking pictures of this one said there was a 300斤 one on a beach east of here. I’ll give you one guess regarding it’s fate…
P.S. – UPDATE:
Special thanks to science writer and jellyfish expert Dr. Juli Berwald, who’s ID’d this thing for us. It’s a Nomura’s jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai), one of the two largest jellyfish species in the world. According to the internets, it’s got a painful sting but doesn’t *usually* kill people (?!) and is edible but not considered tasty enough to go to all the trouble it would take to harvest them. They’ve capsized fishing boats and shut down at least one nuclear reactor. And you can’t just go killing them, because whenever one gets stressed it releases billions of sperm or eggs into the water. It’s not the most venomous jellyfish in the ocean, but it is perhaps the most notorious for economic impact. Do an image or video search for “Noruma’s jellyfish” or “Nemopilema nomurai” — fascinating stuff.
More importantly, these recent and massive “blooms” of jellyfish have scientists’ attention. Jellyfish are an “iconic animal of our time”; scientists like Dr. Berwald are currently researching what these jellyfish blooms reveal about the future of our oceans and our role in shaping that future. You can check out her project Spineless here.