There’s Reason to Admire
the Bay’s Beautiful Stingers
By Loren Anne Barnett
saw it just a second too late. I remember as a teen
squeezing my eyes shut as I dove off the side of our
boat into the Severn River. The tentacles wrapped
around my head and shoulders as I pierced the surface of the warm water. The venom left stringy red welts
across my face and chest. What were these sea nettles
doing in my river?
I know now that jellyfish do play a role in our Bay’s
ecosystem. These drifters graze on zooplankton, keep-
ing populations of some smaller organisms from grow-
ing out of control.
In the near future, jellyfish worldwide may be heading
for a population explosion. Scientists point to the out-of-balance state of our planet’s oceans. Jellies, it turns
out, have been around for some 600 million years, and
they are very good at adapting. Better than most fish.
While, jellyfish tolerate the effects of the pollution we
dump into our water, fish populations decline. With
fewer of the jellyfish’s natural predators and jellies snapping up more food, a vicious cycle begins. This is the
theme of the “Jellies Invasion” exhibit at Baltimore’s