As I was walking along the gulf’s edge looking somewhat like this beachcomber… minding my own business looking for shells like this…
I was enjoying all of the sites around me like this BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERON…
Then I decided to take a little dip in the water to change the view and look for other interesting treasures in the gulf.
AAACCCKKKK! I got stung! Ouch! Something just brushed up on my ankle and stung me! Geez! All I see is a piece of SEAWEED. I got stung by something that looks like SEAWEED floating in the Gulf Of Mexico? So I picked it up to see what it was. Hmmmm… it didn’t burn me this time.
I put it on the sand to take this next photo… then I saw it move. It’s alive! The “seaweed” is still alive! Maybe it’s not a plant after all. Clark reminded me that he’s been stung by this same thing before but I never got a good picture of it.
So this time, I had to do some research to find out what the heck this thing is since I did get a good picture of it this time. I thumbed through all of my books and found what I think this thing that stung me was a HYDROID. This is part of the reproductive cycle of a JELLYFISH! OMG This is so cool! Hydroids are colonies of tiny stinging jellies, best described as hundreds of inverted JELLYFISH attached to a feather- or seaweed-like base. This, my friends, is what stung me. This is what I believe is a POLYPOID which will invert at some time and turn into a JELLYFISH. It’s a JELLYFISH in its pupal stage. It’s this long tube looking thing with tentacles on the end in this next picture.
Yall remember I’m not a scientist. So what I read from the book “Reef Creatures” by Humann and DeLoach is “Hydroids are usually colonial, and have a branched skeleton that generally grows in patterns resembling feathers or ferns. Individual polyps are attached to this structure“. So it looks to me like this whole structure is the HYDROID and there is my little mean POLYP (attached) that stung me even before he grows into big goopy JELLYFISH. I’m just learning this as I go so I’ve added links (wherever you see bolded/highlighted words) to the sites I’ve researched as well. I just think this is so awesome to know what to look for if this happens again so I thought you would enjoy knowing all of this too.
My sting (which felt like a burn and seemed worse in the beginning because it startled me) only lasted for about 30 minutes and the rash went away soon after but it made me VERY curious. And guess what… I got a video of this POLYP (or POLYPOID) moving its tentacles. Ready? don’t worry, it won’t sting you too.
Even if you get stung by a POLYP on a HYDROID one day… it goes away quickly and I really wouldn’t even call it “hurting”, it just caused some discomfort. No biggie. It was well worth it to learn all of this cool stuff!