Dead & decomposing jellyfish 1 - Decomposing jellyfish on the strandline surrounded by hundreds of small holes made by burrowing sand hoppers in the locally damp sand

Dead jellyfish that wash ashore and end up on the strandline  seem to slowly melt into the sand and disappear. Even during life there are not many animals that feed on them except turtles. In death they don’t seem to be very appetising either; though sometimes birds may peck and crabs may claw at the remains.

I thought for a long time that the thousands of sand hoppers – Talitrus saltator (Montagu) – frequenting the strandlines were tucking in to the jellyfish feast as well as all the other detritus. However, as far as I can find out from books and the web, these small amphipod crustaceans are vegetarian and only eat seaweed and other vegetable remains.

This leaves a puzzle because, if you look closely at the photographs of dead jellyfish (mostly Rhizostoma octopus L.) in this post, you will see that that almost all of them are surrounded by hundreds of small holes in the sand. These holes lead to the burrows where nocturnal seashore creatures like the sand hoppers hide during the daytime. Maybe their presence can be explained by the fact  that these amphipods need a humidity of 90% minimum at all times to survive. The deliquescing jellyfish leaks moisture into the sand beneath and around it – providing an excellent microclimate for hopper habitation.

For more information from Jessica’s Nature Blog about this and other types of jellyfish found on Gower beaches click Jellyfish.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 2 - Decomposing barrel-mouthed jellyfish on the sandy strandline.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 3 - Decomposing dustbin-lid jellyfish on the sandy strandline.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 4 - Deliquescing Rhizostoma octopus jellyfish on the sandy strandline.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 5 - Sand-covered Rhizostoma octopus jellyfish on the strandline of a Gower beach in South Wales.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 6 - Sand-covered dead Rhizostoma octopus jellyfish on a sandy Gower beach.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 7 - Decomposing 'dustbin-lid' or 'barrel-mouthed' jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus Linnaeus) on a sandy beach with mussel shells.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 8 - Decomposing 'dustbin-lid' or 'barrel-mouthed' jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus Linnaeus) on a sandy beach with mussel shells.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 9 - Decomposing 'dustbin-lid' or 'barrel-mouthed' jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus Linnaeus) on the shelly sand of a Gower beach.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 10 - Decomposing 'dustbin-lid' or 'barrel-mouthed' jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus Linnaeus) almost completely 'melted' into the sand of a Gower beach.

Dead & decomposing jellyfish 11 - A vague blue gelatinous shadow on the beach where a Rhizostoma octopus jellyfish has completely decomposed, deliquesced and soaked into the sand.  

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2012

All Rights Reserved

2 Replies to “Dead & decomposing jellyfish”

  1. wow,, very intensive blog in an amazing way!!
    i love the pictures…where was that?!
    may i ask what camera you’re using?!

    keep up the great work! :))

    Like

  2. Thanks, Nadine. The jellyfish were all photographed at beaches on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, UK. I use a Panasonic Lumix camera with a x18 zoom – which is between a compact and an SLR camera. It’s great because it does a lot of the thinking for you when you take a shot.

    Like

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