Flotsam

Ten Things You Need to Know About Jellyfish, Our Gelatinous Frenemies

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1. They're hungry.

They might look like old boob implants in search of their owners, but jellyfish are voracious. The two most common types in Miami are the round moon jelly and the Portuguese man-of-war, also known as the "blue bottle" for its gaseous pouch. While moon jellies eat plankton, men-of-war can use their long, trailing tentacles to catch fish as large as five inches.

2. And mindless.

Without a nervous system, jellies have little idea what they're latching onto. It could easily be you.

3. Pee is a placebo.

Some Pacific jellyfish are deadly, but South Florida jellies are lightweights. Like alcohol, however, the volume of jelly venom makes all the difference. Here's what to do if stung: Pull the tentacle off immediately. The stinging toxin is already in your bloodstream, so splashing yourself with urine, meat tenderizer, or sand won't help much. "I usually tell people to do whatever makes them feel better," Graham says. "If that means a little bit of your buddy's pee, go for it."

Wash your hands. Jelly toxin might not be strong enough to seep through the thick skin on your hands, but it will mess you up if you touch your eyes or face.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.