Stung is the New Black

Jelly Fish scars

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Jelly Fish scars

Let’s Talk Jelly Fish

Lots of people are talking about jellyfish these days.  The environmental activists will say, “You know, the oceans are warming everywhere, so there are swarms of jellyfish where there never have been before.”  I don’t doubt that there is truth to that statement, but I endorse the more practical logic that, “Even if there aren’t more jellyfish, there sure are more people swimming in the open water, so there are just more stings than there have been before.”

Whether there are more jellies or more swimmers, it seems that suddenly everyone wants to learn about and talk about stingers.  We’ve learned that the couple hundred different species of jellyfish vary on a continuum based on size, geography and toxicity, and an individual’s reaction to them.   The continuum goes from “Oh, that was unpleasant,” to life-threatening, with all points in between.  We saw the jellyfish whupping that Diana Nyad took last year on her Havana-to-Key West swim attempt, and I understand that the jellymonsters are even worse in Australia.  I have learned that I am pretty allergic to all of them, and am happy to report that my experience has been more at the pansy end of the scale.

Having jellyfish experience, particularly if you live in the Central time zone, suddenly brings a certain cache.  Celebrity, even.  Hence, “Stung is the New Black.”

I didn’t think much of it, but was intrigued to learn about other swimmers’ experiences when I saw a survey on, proving that there is, indeed, a website for everything.  I filled out the survey with my jellytales from A Long Swims in Tampa Bay, the English Channel and the Catalina Channel.  Afterward, I got a note from a separated-by-one-degree-friend and open water swimming guru, Steven Munatones.  Steven asked if I would “add a little color” to my survey responses with a writeup.  He must’ve liked the writeup, because he featured it in his blog, the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

No matter what you call them – jellies, stingers, zingers or brainless nematocysts – you can read the write-up about jelly fish here.

A year ago right now, temperatures in Chicago were in the 80s and we were able to swim in Lake Zurich.  This year, there are still fishing shanties on the ice.  It will be a few more weeks of pool swimming before we can go back there.

See you at the pool.  I will report back.

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