SEA WASP: characteristics, where it lives, what it eats and stings - With VIDEO!

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Under the scientific name of Chironex fleckeri what is considered the most poisonous animal on the planet, the sea wasp, hides. A single specimen of these jellyfish contains enough venom to kill up to 600 people, so that since 1954 it is estimated that these jellyfish have been responsible for more than 5,500 deaths. Its mortal potential has also been reflected in the cinema, where it appears as the cause of the death of some characters in some films.

If you have ever wondered which is the most dangerous jellyfish in the world and you are interested in knowing more about it, from Ecologist Verde we give you the answer through this article in which we talk about the sea wasp, its characteristics, where it lives, what it eats and its sting.

Characteristics of the sea wasp

These are the main characteristics of the sea wasp jellyfish:

  • It is considered one of the creatures more poisonous and lethal of the planet.
  • Other names given to it include box jellyfish, box jellyfish, cubomedusa or cubozoa jellyfish.
  • These names that are given by the square-shaped body that characterizes them, from where the 60 tentacles It is about 80 centimeters long, and these can reach up to 3 meters long in adulthood.
  • The sea wasp size It ranges between 10 and 20 centimeters, not counting the tentacles, and can reach a size similar to a basketball, and they are also characterized by having a pale blue tone, being translucent and bright in the dark.
  • His life is quite short, with a life expectancy that ranges from three months to half a year.
  • What curiosities of the sea wasp and, a notable difference with respect to other jellyfish, is that they have four groups of 20 eyes, while most jellyfish are blind. Even so, it is still unknown if they see as such through them. This high number of eyes, together with the many sensory organs they have, would compensate for their brain deficiency.

Where does the sea wasp live?

After knowing some of its most important characteristics, another question that usually assails us is to know where is the sea wasp found, that is, where can we find it?

Sea wasps mainly inhabit tropical waters of Northern Australia, generally displaced towards the coast due to the marine currents. Here they cohabit with one of their close beings, the Irukandji (Carukia barnesi), a tiny jellyfish of the same order as the sea wasp and which is known to cause irukandji syndrome, a rare disease first detected in 1922 that causes severe pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea, sweating and hypertension ending with the death of the victim.

The box jellyfish also inhabits the entire indian and pacific ocean. However, specimens have also been detected in areas of New Guinea, Vietnam and the Philippines. Although the sea wasp has a wide geographic distribution and can move great distances, adults tend to stay in small restricted areas. Even so, the presence of this jellyfish is still being studied elsewhere in the ocean.

In addition, during the months of October and May, the sea wasps approach the shores to breed and, due to this event, in many places such as, for example, Queensland in the northwest of Australia, bathing is prohibited during this period. Here you can learn a little more about how jellyfish reproduce.

What does the sea wasp eat

Like other jellyfish, sea wasps feed on plankton and small marine animals. In general, their diet is limited to what reaches them, since they do not hunt and therefore do not go looking for food. In some occasions, in addition to eating plankton, some of the small marine animals that we have mentioned that eat can also be smaller jellyfish, so they become predators of other species of jellyfish. Through their stinging tentacles, these jellyfish manage to catch and kill their prey easily.

Regarding the sea wasp predators, the green turtleChelonia mydas) can feed on sea wasps, since their thick skin prevents them from being seriously stung by this dangerous species.

Poison and sting of the sea wasp

Along their tentacles, sea wasps have millions of microscopic hooks (up to five billion), called cnidocytes, full of venom inside. A single sting results in skin necrosis and extreme pain, and this venom contains a complex mixture of proteins and toxins that is myotoxic, hemolytic, dermonecrotic and lethal. attack the heart, nervous system, and respiratory system, in addition to the skin and muscle cells themselves in the area that receives the bite.

In humans they can cause death from cardiac arrest or paralysis from pain within minutes. In fact, the pain caused by the slightest touch with the jellyfish is so intense that it can cause shock in the victim and, being in the water, they drown, as they usually do not have time to reach the shore.

Relative to other jellyfish, it has been determined that pain caused by the poison of the sea wasp It is at least 10 times more powerful than that of the Portuguese caravel (Physalia physalis) and at least several orders of magnitude more powerful than that of sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha). It has also been seen that, with very light contact with sea wasps and in which the victim has managed to survive, this poison causes significant scarring marks on the skin similar to those left by a deep lash.

Interestingly, in the middle of last year, researchers from the University of Sydney, in Australia, discovered a antidote to the sting of sea wasps jellyfish, with which they are in the process of developing a topical application for humans.

Now that you know this jellyfish well, we encourage you to meet others with this other Green Ecologist article about Cnidarians: characteristics and examples. Also, here you can see a video about these jellyfish.

If you want to read more articles similar to Sea wasp: characteristics, where it lives, what it eats and sting, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.

  • Winter, K. L., Isbister, G. K., McGowan, S., Konstantakopoulos, N., Seymour, J. E., & Hodgson, W. C. (2010). A pharmacological and biochemical examination of the geographical variation of Chironex fleckeri venom. Toxicology letters, 192(3), 419-424.
  • Bloom, D. A., Burnett, J. W., & Alderslade, P. (1998). Partial purification of box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) nematocyst venom isolated at the beachside. Toxicon, 36(8), 1075-1085.
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