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Remarkable Number of Moon Jellies Hit N. Oregon Coast

Published 01/15/2019 at 6:33 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Remarkable Number of Moon Jellies Hit N. Oregon Coast

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – Something slimy this way comes. (Photos courtesy Haystack Rock Awareness Program).

A fairly large stranding of jellyfish has beachgoers amazed on the north Oregon coast right now, especially at Cannon Beach. The Haystack Rock Awareness Program snapped these photos in the last 24 hours of a rather large run of moon jellies – surreal and translucent creatures that seem to have hit several places along the coastline because of recent storm activity and winds from the west.

Moon jellies go by the scientific name Aurelia aurita. Once you find them on a beach, they’ve almost always been dead for awhile.

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium said they have no bones and they have no brain.


“This species of jellyfish ranges from Alaska to California, and is the proverbial ‘drifter,’ as it floats along wherever the ocean’s current takes it,” Boothe said. “They eat tiny marine life such as plankton and diatoms, which they pick up with the tiny hair-like tentacles that lace the outside edge of the jellyfish. Though they sting their prey, us large, thick-skinned humans cannot be harmed by this jelly.”

On top of it, they have no heart as well, like other invertebrates.

While in the water, they are fully spread out with all those tentacles and that bell shape. When they arrive on Oregon coast beaches, that’s when they flatten out into the pancake-like oval you see.

Although quite common off the Oregon coast, moon jellies are more common in tropical waters. Yet they have a very wide range of temperature tolerances, from as low as 21 degrees up to nearly 90 degrees.

Most moon jellies stranding on Oregon coast beaches are around a foot in diameter. You can see from the shots provided by Haystack Rock Awareness Program they're likely clocking in a bit less. They can be larger as well. During these stranding events, you may find a dozen or you may find dozens and dozens.

However, they don’t show up in enormous numbers like those purple sailors (or velella velella as they’re mostly known). Those tinier creatures – vaguely related to a jellyfish – can show up thousands at a time, causing a nasty stink if they’re left to dry in the sun.

What causes them to appear? It’s simply the wind and maybe a combination of upwellings and heavy surf conditions. The Oregon coast is an incredibly dynamic place where creatures wash up all the time. Like almost all jellyfish or related critters like salps and velella velella, they have no means to propel themselves.

In this case, winds probably took hold of them and shoved them on land.

While these jellyfish don’t sting, per se, it’s not a good idea to handle them. They could be hosting bad bacteria. The Haystack Rock Awareness Program suggests not handling anything on Oregon coast beaches you can’t identify. Aurelia aurita are one of about ten jellyfish that are very similar, and it’s often hard to tell them apart from each other. More photos below.

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Sandlake Country Inn. Close to Sand Lake beach area - not a bad place to check for jellyfish. 8505 Galloway Rd. (Near Pacific City, Oregon). 877-726-3525. 503-965-6745. www.sandlakecountryinn.com.

 



 



 

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