You might be curious about the several types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico, regardless of whether you live there or are just visiting.
When it comes to jellies, there are instances in which we are aware of their presence before we ever look for them.
These fascinating animals have been floating around the oceans for 500 million years and are a vital link in the marine food chain.
This may be a bit unsettling to people, but they have been there the entire time. Because many species of sea jellies are capable of delivering a potent sting, it is essential to be able to distinguish between those that are harmful and those that are not.
It is simple to be under the impression that the gulf of Mexico is teeming with poisonous jellyfish.
On the other hand, we will discover that, even though it is prudent to use caution, the vast majority of jellyfish you may encounter may produce a slight annoyance at the very worst.
Types of Jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico
There are species of jellyfish in practically all of the world’s oceans, and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are no exception.
There is a good chance that you won’t encounter jellyfish in coastal waters all year round, but as the water temperature drops in the fall and winter, it is not uncommon to observe jellyfish in these areas.
The waters in the Gulf of Mexico are home to an exceptionally diverse population of jellyfish. From very little transparent animals to much larger critters that move along the water’s surface.
These can range from those common during jellyfish season but cause just a mild annoyance, such as the moon jellyfish, to those that are less common but provide a more significant threat, such as the box jellyfish.
If you indulge in watersports, you might come across jellyfish drifting out in the ocean, although most people see them washed up on shore at the beach.
We will assist you in distinguishing between the types of jellyfish you should avoid at all costs and those about which you have nothing to be concerned.
1. Mushroom Cap Jellyfish
Our first mention in the compilation on types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico is the Mushroom cap jellyfish (Rhopilema Verrilli).
The bell of the mushroom cap jellyfish resembles a mushroom, and we must admit that there is at least some similarity between the two.
The jelly bell of the mushroom can grow to be rather large, reaching a maximum diameter of up to 50 centimeters or 20 inches.
There is a wide range of colors for the mushroom cap jellyfish. You may notice them with the bell light making them appear yellow, blue, brown, white, pink, or green.
No matter what the primary color is, the mushroom jelly almost always has a pigment that looks like a light brownish tint around its edges.
This particular jellyfish lacks any sort of tentacles. On the other hand, it has eight brown arms that are quite short and store internal stinging nematocysts to immobilize the planktonic food it consumes.
Due to the absence of exterior stinging cells on mushroom cap jellyfish, it is highly improbable that you will be stung by one, even if it brushes up against you while swimming in the ocean.
If you were to have the misfortune of coming into contact with the stinging cells within their bells, the sting you would receive is likely moderate.
You’ll frequently encounter these jellyfish along the coastline in the Gulf of Mexico. Even in the winter, it is possible to spot them in the Chesapeake Bay.
2. Mauve Stinger or Purple Jellyfish
Another one of the types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico is the mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca), commonly known as the purple jellyfish. It is a species of jellyfish found along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
It is a very small jellyfish. This jellyfish is well-known in the Mediterranean water as a troublesome invasive species.
There is a possibility that the bell and tentacles of the jellyfish will be colored mauve, pink, or purple. The width of the bell can be anywhere from 1.2 to 5 inches (three centimeters to twelve cm).
The mauve stinger comprises eight long, poisonous tentacles, four of which are used for eating, while the remaining four act as a tool to immobilize victims.
Because the mauve stinger is an unusual species, it possesses stinging nematocysts on its bell and tentacles; therefore, if you contact one, you will most likely be aware of it.
Because it is possible to get stung by a dead jelly that has dried up on the beach, you should avoid contact if you do not have protection.
The stings caused by a mauve stinger need to be treated by a qualified medical practitioner. The discomfort may linger for up to two weeks, and you might experience a severe rash that is bright red and swollen.
Sometimes the victim will also experience nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea in addition to their other symptoms.
The mauve stinger is a type of bioluminescent jellyfish that, when agitated, emits a flashing light that you may see with the naked eye at night.
3. Box Jellyfish
There are many different kinds of box jellyfish (Cubozoa), often called sea wasps, that you may see in the gulf of Mexico, with the majority of sightings occurring in the Atlantic ocean.
These types of jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico are among the most dangerous animals in the world; nevertheless, Australia is the only place where you are likely to encounter the species with the most painful sting.
The square and box-like appearance of the translucent bell of the box jelly perfectly matches the connotation of its name.
The diameter of the box can range from 30 centimeters to 30 cm or 12 inches to 12 inches, depending on the species.
Ten-foot-long tentacles are common for box jellies, which typically have tentacles that are three meters long.
Irukandji jellyfish are a kind of box jellyfish that are exceptionally small and endemic to the Gulf of Mexico.
These range in width from 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) to 25 millimeters (0.98 inches), growing from the former to the latter.
They have four lengthy tentacles, the shortest of which is only a few centimeters long and the longest of which is one meter or 3.3 feet long.
These types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico are powerful swimmers and appear to be very active when it comes to hunting for food.
Although humans are not their targets, the sting of a box jelly can be excruciating. Not receiving treatment will immediately cause intense agony, eventually leading to unconsciousness and death in the most severe cases.
If you believe you have been stung by a box jelly, you should seek first aid and emergency medical assistance as soon as possible.
4. Upside-Down Jellyfish
A peculiar jellyfish known as the upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea) resides in the Gulf of Mexico in well-lit shallow areas with mangroves and seagrass.
The name of this species of jellyfish comes from the fact that it spends much of its time in an inverted position compared to other types.
As the jellyfish lies on its back, pulsating on the ocean floor, its branching arms point upward.
If you swim close to upside-down jellyfish, you may experience a tingling sensation.
This is because upside-down jellyfish release stingers into the water surrounding them in order to immobilize their food and ward off potential predators.
Despite their ability to capture plankton, these types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico obtain the vast majority of their nutrition from the sun, which is why they have their arms directed upwards.
The arms are home to symbiotic algae that make food through photosynthesis.
5. Portuguese Man O’ War
The Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis) is not an actual species of jellyfish.
However, the Portuguese man o’ war appears to and behaves in a manner that is quite similar to that of a shark, and as a result, it seems appropriate to mention it here.
The Portuguese man of war is a marine hydrozoan species found in the Atlantic Ocean. It can be seen rather commonly along the lower east coast of the Gulf of Mexico when there are breezes from the east and southeast.
This animal has the ability to float thanks to its characteristic gas-filled bladder, which can be blue, purple, pink, or mauve in color.
It is also the origin of the common name, which refers to the shape of the animal, which is said to resemble a famous warship.
The width of the bladder ranges from nine to thirty centimeters (3.5 to 12 inches), and it can get as high as fifteen centimeters (six inches) above the surface of the water.
When the animal is submerged, its lengthy tentacles hang between ten and thirty meters (or thirty to one hundred feet) below the surface.
They use their tentacles to catch small fish as well as other types of prey. The venom of a Portuguese man-of-war is potent enough to cause excruciating pain when it hits its target.
If treatment is not received, the venom may cause problems with breathing and the heart, as well as fever, shock, and even death. In the case that any sting occurs, immediate medical assistance is required.
You can frequently see dead Portuguese man-of-war washed up on the beach; however, you should avoid touching them because the venom is still potent even after the animal has passed away.
6. By-the-Wind Sailor
The sailor who sails “by the wind” is not a jellyfish. It is related to the Portuguese man o’ war and, in many respects, resembles a more diminutive variant of that species.
Along with the wind and the water currents, the sail of the by-the-wind (Velella velella) sailor is a brilliant shade of blue and makes it easily recognizable.
In most cases, the sail will reach a height of no more than about ten centimeters or four inches, and the tentacles will be of an incredibly minute size.
The by-the-wind sailor does not sting humans, which is a fortunate development. The typical reaction is a rash that is not severe but irritating and clears up rapidly.
7. Moon Jellyfish
The moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) is a real jellyfish found in locations close to the coast, such as lagoons, harbors, estuaries, and beaches.
In contrast to other jellyfish species, moon jellies are not very good swimmers. As a result, they feed on plankton while drifting along in currents in cool, warm, and temperate oceans.
The diameter of a mature moon jelly ranges from around 10 to 16 inches (25 to 40 centimeters). They are circular and rather flat, and the edges have a slight inward curve.
They have short tentacles loaded with nematocysts underneath their bodies, which they use to catch food.
Moon jellyfish can range from almost completely transparent to color between blue and purple.
The ring of four, five, or six little pink or purple circles that you may find inside their translucent bodies is one of these creatures’ most recognizable identifying traits.
These types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico normally congregate in enormous numbers on occasion.
However, there is no reason for you to be concerned because most people do not experience any sting when they come into contact with them. It shouldn’t last more than an hour if you feel something, even if it’s just a dull ache.
Because the gulf of Mexico experiences annual mass strandings of moon jellyfish, it is not uncommon to find these critters washing ashore, particularly during the colder months of the year.
8. Atlantic Sea Nettle Jellyfish
If you go boating along the Gulf of Mexico, you should keep an eye out for the Atlantic sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha), as it is a rather typical visitor to the state’s shoreline.
The bell of an Atlantic sea nettle jellyfish usually is between 12 and 18 centimeters (five to seven inches) across and has a coloration that is primarily transparent or cream-colored.
The bells of Atlantic sea nettles typically have a distinctive striped pattern that is orange-brown in color, and you may easily identify it.
These marks are especially noticeable on specimens that swim close to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Tentacles on Atlantic sea nettle jellyfish can reach lengths of up to 50 centimeters (20 inches), making them one of the most venomous species of jellyfish.
These types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico employ these to collect their prey, which may include plankton, comb jellies, fish eggs, fish fry, crabs, or mosquito larvae.
The tentacles of an Atlantic sea nettle have the potential to cause a severe rash and a burning sensation in individuals who come into touch with the plant. Despite this, it is normal for this to stop happening within a couple of hours.
9. Cannonball Jellyfish
There are reports that the cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus Meleagris) is almost the same size as a conventional cannonball, with a diameter of approximately 25 centimeters or ten inches. The cannonball jellyfish appears to be almost fully round when viewed from underneath.
Brown pigmentation can be visible around the rim of cannonball jellyfish, also known as cabbage head jellyfish, which reside in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
They swim using the short cluster of oral arms located underneath their mouths and use these oral arms to capture food.
In contrast to most other types of jellies, the cannonball jelly is a very capable swimmer. When going on a scuba dive, you can observe them swimming underwater at a speed considered to be moderately normal.
The stinging cells of the cannonball jelly secrete toxins, which cause the nearby little fish to become temporarily immobile.
If you were to swim very close to one of these types of jellyfish in the gulf of Mexico, you would get a tingling feeling. Fortunately, this does not appear to affect the majority of people.
If you come into contact with a cannonball, the region you were hurt will break out in a rash and sting.
In most cases, this clears up on its own, but in other cases, therapy with hydrocortisone may be necessary.
If you have the misfortune of getting stung in the eye, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
In the Gulf of Mexico, it is not uncommon to find cannonball jellyfish washed up on the beaches, and beached jellyfish deteriorate in a relatively short amount of time.
In Japan, People use freshly caught specimens as a delicacy; however, it is essential to know how to properly prepare them before eating them.
10. Pink Meanie
The pink meanie (Drymonema larsoni) is a notable mention on our list of types of jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico.
During a particularly large bloom of moon jellies approximately 15 years ago in the Gulf of Mexico, a newly described species of jellyfish called the pink meanie was seen for the first time.
After closer inspection, experts noticed that this jelly was feeding on the moon jellies and that it was very different from anything else they had ever seen—this jelly fed on the moon jellyfish. Because of their uniqueness, experts categorized them under a new family.
These pink meanies are relatively uncommon in other parts of the world but were helpful for scientific purposes near Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Even while they might not be seen very often in the waters close to Sanibel, you never know what might be carried along by the currents and end up surprising us.
11. Comb Jellies
Unlike real jellies, comb jellies (Ctenophoroa) do not belong to the phylum Cnidaria despite having a simple gelatinous body similar to true jellies.
Because they do not possess specific stinging cells, these organisms are under the ctenophores family.
Although these creatures resemble jellyfish, They have no connection to jellies in any way; taxonomically speaking, we couldn’t help but talk about them because we find them so fascinating!
Their gorgeous ovoid bodies have lines with hundreds of microscopic hair-like structures known as cilia, which they utilize to push themselves through the water while frequently illuminating themselves with bioluminescence.
The fact that these jellies do not have stingers, despite the fact that they may have a similar appearance to jellyfish, is a significant difference that may work to our advantage.
These mild-mannered jellies do not contain any nematocysts; that is correct. Instead of employing a potent sting to catch their meal, they use cells called colloblasts, which are adhesive and essentially bind their prey to their tentacles.
This allows them to digest their food easily. Therefore, you should not be afraid to handle one of these fragile creatures!