Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cyanea capillata

"Jellyfish" is a crude word for a thing that's not really jelly (it's mostly water, and about 10% protein), and definitely isn't a fish (fish have backbones and fins). When I was learning to scuba dive all eyes were on the starfish or anemones, and the jellies were just dismissed as a nuisance. But now I want to study them up close, and next time I'm in the ocean I'll pay more attention. In the photo, a lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata, or, as most people know it, a "Medusa") in Puget Sound. Arctic Cyanea can have a diameter of up to seven feet and tentacles over 100 feet long! Some jellyfish have brains; in fact, one species has four brains processing the light intake of 24 eyes. Jellyfish have been around for over 600 million years; they can tell up from down, their sting can be mild or deadly, and they normally live less than a few days, though some species are thought to live for decades. You can see one swimming here, and learn a little more about them here. My drawing above (click for the bigger version) from a recent dive. I'm just about done with making an underwater tablet to draw with; grease pencil on white tablet. I'll be able to draw underwater, looking directly at the subject rather than relying on memory.

No comments: