Sunday September 25th, 2011 – beach cleanup and moon jellies

As some of you may know from Scubaboard, Sunday was to be the day to head down to Lauderdale by the Sea bright and early to do some shore diving. I have been seriously jonesing for a dive as it has been 5-6inches of viz in Vero Beach lately. I thought I had hubby pretty much talked into this. Went to bed early sat night (midnight) and was up for the 7am alarm. I threw my suit on and put all the little clothes in the bag. Hubby seemed to be moving slow and after prompting him a few times, he stated he just didn’t want to head down for a two and half hour drive and then two and half hour drive back. Initial reaction was, NO WAY! but as we have not had much time off, I understood that he may have not wanted to be in the jeep for 5 hours humping gear and having to clean it all after. Was I a little irritated, OF COURSE! but I recovered and realized that there was no point in ruining the whole day off for hubby by bitching and moaning and making him do something he didn’t want to.

So here is where I adapt…the easy thing would have been to crawl back into bed and go back to sleep but I was wide awake. We decided to head down our local beach, Cape Canaveral in the Jeep. Took the door tops off and folded up the back window.
We always tend to head to the North side of Cape Canaveral than deal with the cops, harassment and parking meters in Cocoa Beach. No point in bringing snorkel gear as the water is generally sandy and all chopped up in our neck of the woods. We grabbed a coffee and six pack for the cooler.
When we got to the beach we noticed an enormous amount of seaweed washed up. Rich thought there were Portuguese man of wars in the seaweed but it was just a shocking amount of bottle caps and other garbage. We enjoyed our coffee, took a little walk and decided to head into the water. Temperature was fabulous and it was quite refreshing. There was a slight surf of 2-3 feet but compared to the recent rips and surf we have had recently, it was calm. We took the plunge and swam around for a minute when I saw Richard jump a bit. I asked him what was wrong and he told me nothing just a rock. I asked him again and he said just a bit of seaweed. Well, come to find out HUGE moon jellyfish! After looking around us, we spotted at least 9 jellies and some as big as dinner plates. Well, that was enough for me to head out of the water.

I did a little research and low and behold moon jellies usually begin to show up here in the Florida Keys each year in late August due to their breeding cycles.

Moon jellies are a group of more than ten almost identical jellyfish species in the genus Aurelia. For the most part, it is hard to tell if they are moon jellyfish without taking a DNA sample but they do have a four leaf clover like shapes gonad section in the middle of the body. The body is translucent, usually about 25–40 cm in diameter, and can be recognized by its four horseshoe-shaped gonads that are easily seen through the top of the bell. This four-leaf-clover shape that can be seen in the middle is how you can tell it is a moon jelly according to hubby.


When washed up on shore they look like a round disk-shaped pad of hardened jelly. Many people say they look like silicon boob implants when dried up a bit. I have also seen them look like hard grey silicone or plastic blobs. never realized these darker ones were moon jellies.

Moon Jelly on Beach

Notice the four leaf clover shaped gonadsSome are light pink and others are a blue color. As their season here gets near the end they turn more to a purple and dark pink shade. They’re a saucer-shaped dome with lots of short, fringe-like tentacles around the entire edge.

When you brush up against the tentacles you get a dull sting. People with sensitive skin are more affected than others. The sting is not fatal or very serious to humans but you may feel a light stinking or burning sensation. This was enough to get me out of the water! last time these pesky critters were in town, I received about 9 stings that itched for a few seconds and went away but a few hours later stung again.You know what they say if you get stung, have a buddy or yourself pee on it. But clorox bleach or meat tenderizer will take the sting away as well.

The moon jellyfish is a carnivore. It loves plankton that it catches while floating in the water column. Their prey includes a wide variety of small organisms like juvie mollusks and crustaceans, rotifers, young polychaetes, protozoans, diatoms, tunicate larvae and fish eggs. Their tentacles hang down from their underside and sweep the water, entangling whatever it encounters. Stinging nematocysts kill their prey and secreted mucus helps hold onto ensnared plankton. Captured food is moved via flagellar movement towards canals along the underside of the disk, then moved by other smaller flagella into the stomach.

Moon jellies biggest predators are sea turtles, sunfish and sea birds. They generally do not live longer than 6 months after reproducing several times in the 6 months. The Moon Jellyfishes often breed during October and release very small embryos into their surroundings. They don’t keep coming to the water surface for air like some fishes do, instead they breathe right away through their outer layer in the water itself. The embryos which are around 1 to 2 cm long then go and attach themselves to a stagnant underwater structure and grow over there for another 12 months feeding on the surroundings. Then they slowly elongate and swim away as tiny jellyfishes.

Well, anyway after seeing quite a few I will admit I am a big puss. Falls into the same category of me not being able to grab a Florida lobster. Killer lobster, killer jelly…all the same mentality. I have watched too much TV.

We decided to head home, it was only 9am. We decided to do a little beach cleanup first. Well, hubby did…we always try to take more than what we came with for garbage but he decided to head back down for a second trip, prompting me to do the same. We found a washed up bucket and Rich carried that while we filled it. There were tons of bottle caps, plastic bags, straws and even a mesh material with string all tangled up in seaweed. One of our wonderful and incredibly gorgeous sea turtles could have very easily got all tangled up in this.

    It is flabbergasting to me how ignorant man(and woman) has become. If every person who went to the beach, took more than what they went with out for garbage we would not have an issue with the trash on the beaches.

Anyway, I have thought about some ways that the local government could alleviate some of this. But realistically this is just me venting about the stupid people.

1. Waive parking fees or meter charges after you take a bag from the local attendant and fill it up with crap you find on the beach. This would not only keep beaches clean but also make humans more conscious of the what they are doing to our oceans.
Most divers I have met are extremely conscious of their impact on the ocean and beach. I have witnessed oodles of them bringing bottles, fishing line and other garbage out of the ocean.

2. Make the unemployed do local trash cleanup whether it is on the beach or near their home and then hand them their unemployment check.

3. Ban smoking and throwing butts on the beach. The city council on Gulfport agreed to consider a smoking ban on city beaches and play areas used by children. Protecting children from second-hand smoke and reducing litter are the two main goals they have in mind. Click to read article.
Deerfield beach attempted to do this to no avail as it was stated that there was no way to enforce it. How about just fining them $100 for flicking a butt on the beach and enforcing it? Smoke a pack at the beach and leave all your butts there, that is what $2000?

Here is the bucket of stuff we picked up. And yes, this bucket washed up on shore.

Anyway thanks for the rant. I will continue to do my part to save our oceans. Perhaps this post will make you think about what you could do to help out.

About daniellesdives

diving enthusiast
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