Extreme Jellyfish- page 5 | 40th Anniversary | Smithsonian
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Extreme Jellyfish

There are some 2,000 species of jellyfish. Some are tasty, others will kill you with the tap of a tentacle. Here are nine varieties that really stand out

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Australian box jellyfish
(Maura McCarthy)
The Australian box jellyfish, or sea wasp, is most likely to succeed…in killing you. It has up to 15 tentacles, each packing enough poison to slay dozens of unlucky bathers. These jellies are almost transparent: the best way to spot them is to look for their shadows on the ocean floor. Their toxins work so quickly that a victim’s heart can stop before he even reaches the shore. Survivors are left with horrific-looking welts on their skin.

Sea wasps are advanced, as far as jellyfish go. They can swim (as opposed to drifting in the current) and scientists at the Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit recently developed tagging technology to track the killers’ movements underwater.

Box jellies are also shoo-ins for the “Best Eyes” category. Most jellyfish don’t have eyes, but sea wasps have several clusters of them on their bells, complete with lenses, irises and corneas.

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