Friday, December 10th, 2010

Why I don’t go into the water: Jellyfish with both “medusa” and “gigantica” in their Latin names should be avoided on principle

I’ve seen a lot of pics of giant Jellyfish lately, mostly these Nomura’s jellyfish who inhabit the Sea of Japan like Godzilla’s own colon polyps. I fear them, of course, but I admit to cheering for them as they sank a Japanese trawler last year…nobody was hurt.

But looking up info on oarfish, I came across Mark Benfield‘s work at Louisiana State University. He’s working with oil and gas industry ROVs — submersible robots — to study wildlife. Hey, its the least the industry could do. No, seriously, the very least.

Last spring, Benfield published the first account of Stygiomedusa gigantea, a giant jellyfish, in the Gulf of Mexico. They aren’t trawler-eating big, but they are still fairly huge. They are apparently fond of grabbing onto underwater structures — such as pipelines or oil rigs — to use as a base for feeding. See, the oil industry is providing a valuable service!

Discover Magazine interviewed Benfield last month. Cool, shudder-inducing vid: